Election 2020 is the first election to be fully funded by the government since democracy was restored in the country in 1992.
It is one election which had no donor funding to support the election management processes, the Chair of the Electoral Commission (EC), Mrs Jean Mensa, has disclosed.
Disclosing this at the opening ceremony of the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) workshop on the 2020 election in Accra yesterday, she urged Ghanaians to recognise and celebrate the achievements of the 2020 electoral process.
Mrs Mensa said beyond that feat, which needed to be celebrated, the processes leading to the 2020 election also involved a number of best practices that must be documented to serve as a guide for future elections.
“It is important that we recognise the feats we achieved through the 2020 electoral processes for the purpose of documenting best practices and experience and ensuring that the successful strategies we adopted do not fall through the cracks of inordinate fault-finding and critique,” she said.
Some of the achievements include the successful use of biometric technology to ensure that only unique individuals were registered to vote; doing away with the phenomenon of double registration and multiple voting; the deployment of technology to enable a section of Ghanaians to check their registration details over the mobile phone and check their registration details all through to election day and reducing the cost of the election by 41 per cent, compared to the 2016 election (reduced the cost of the election from $13 per person to $7.7 and thereby saving the country $90 million).
The two-day workshop, which ends today, has brought together actors and stakeholders in the country’s political space, including civil society organisations (CSOs), to take stock of the processes, strategies and approaches that were adopted for the 2020 election.
It will also discuss areas that need to be strengthened and build consensus on a reform agenda for the EC for future elections.
Some notable personalities who were present at the workshop were the General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr John Boadu, and the National Campaign Manager for the NPP in the 2020 elections, Mr Peter Mac Manu.
There were also a former running mate to an independent presidential candidate, Mr Jacob Osei Yeboah, and the Founder of the Ghana Freedom Party (GFP), Madam Akua Donkor.
Missing from the workshop were representatives of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
The workshop is being held four months after the December 2020 elections.
Mrs Mensa said over the period, the EC had reviewed the processes that preceded, characterised and followed the general elections to ascertain the resilience of its electoral processes and its performance in managing the processes.
She told the gathering that in assessing the elections and their processes, it was important to consider that although constructive critique was a vital part of any institutional-building and learning process, the acknowledgement and celebration of the success of the 2020 elections could propel improvement in the country’s electoral processes.
“As state institutions, we tend to gloss over our achievements; as a country, our default mode is to cast assessments of public initiatives or exercises in the mould of fault-finding missions armed with a fine tooth comb, seeking earnestly to find fault.
“Sadly, we are slow to recognise where we have put good processes and systems in place, much less document them. In a bid to improve upon our past performance, we rush to propose new recommendations when the old processes and structures are working very well,” she said.
She added that the elections, organised amidst the unprecedented circumstances of a global pandemic, were a great achievement.
“We pause to celebrate the successes we achieved as a nation in carrying out elections under such circumstances, with a decorum and a level of efficiency that earned us the admiration of our neighbours across the sub-region and the international community as a whole,” she said.
Mrs Mensa observed that it was important for the stakeholders to collectively examine the challenges that came up during the elections to help identify what strategies did not work and why.
“This is important to gain an insight into and understanding of why certain targets were not achieved,” she said.
She observed that one of the challenges that had been on the front burner of discussions was the perpetuation of the illegality of encouraging minors and foreigners to register as voters.
“Very often, fingers are pointed in our direction as if to say that the commission registered the minors and foreigners, but we need to take the time to identify the root cause of this phenomenon. We must ask ourselves: “Na who cause am?” It is certainly not the EC and its officials who cart illegal persons to the registration centres,” she said.
Forging ahead, Mrs Mensa said, the EC had proposed the closing of polls at 3 p.m., instead of 5 p.m.
She also proposed the abolition of the practice of periodic nationwide registration exercises and rather institute an all-round system where citizens who turned 18 or persons who had not previously registered might visit any EC district office with a Ghana card or passport to get registered as voters.
Again, she proposed a year-round exhibition system that would enable citizens to check their registration details on their smartphones and other mobile devices.
Mrs Mensa further said the EC would build efficiency into the collation process by focusing on data entry only at the Constituency Collation Centre.
“The entry point for data capturing into the system will be at the Constituency Collation Centre,” she said.
A lecturer at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Rev. Dr Kwabena Opuni-Frimpong, told the Daily Graphic in an interview on the sidelines of the forum that it was important for citizens to acknowledge the success of the 2020 elections, especially because they were wholly funded by the government without any external support.
“Moving forward, we need to encourage ourselves and celebrate such milestones and our successes. We should not see only the negative, painful and dark sides; let us also see the bright side. It doesn’t mean all was well; it means that we can correct the wrongs,” he said.