Voters in rural communities who go to cast their ballot on Monday, 7 December 2020 and do not have a face mask will be provided with one by the Electoral Commission (EC), Chair of the election management body has announced.
“In response to concerns relating to disenfranchising citizens who visit the polling stations without masks, the Commission will provide masks in polling stations in rural communities to ensure that voters who visit our polling stations without masks are provided masks to enable them exercise their franchise”, Mrs Jean Mensa told journalists at a press conference on Sunday, 6 December 2020 in Accra.
“This facility is restricted to polling stations in rural communities only”, she noted.
Read the EC’s full press statement below:
SPEECH BY MRS JEAN MENSA,
CHAIRPERSON OF THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION
LET THE CITIZEN KNOW
6TH DECEMBER 2020
Good afternoon distinguished citizens of Ghana, I warmly welcome you to today’s “Let the Citizen Know”. Today is a great day and we thank the good Lord for His faithfulness. We couldn’t have come this far without him and we are eternally grateful.
Today marks a historic day on our national calendar. It is the day before the 7th December 2020 election – TO GOD BE THE GLORY, GREAT THINGS HE HAS DONE AND GREATER THINGS HE WILL DO. This afternoon we are here to give you our distinguished citizens an account of the work we have done to ensure a credible orderly, fair, timely, transparent and peaceful election 2020.
As a Commission we recognise that we are accountable to the citizens of Ghana and I am pleased to inform you that by the grace of God we are fully ready to conduct a successful, credible, fair, orderly, transparent and peaceful election on Monday, 7th of December 2020. Permit me to highlight the work done to achieve these results as altered above.
Procurement of Logistics
The Commission has procured a wide variety of election materials for the 2020 Election. These include ballot boxes, thumbprint pads, stationery, identifications jackets, polling station booths, rechargeable lamps, indelible ink, educational posters, and seals, among others. I am pleased to note that as a result of a thorough planning and distribution process, we have distributed these items to all thirty-eight thousand, six hundred and twenty-two (38,622) Polling Stations across the country. For the first time in our history, we printed and distributed all ballot papers for the 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections some two and a half weeks before the election. This early planning and distribution of our logistics has helped ease the pressure on our officials and has allowed the Commission enough time to strategize well ahead of the elections. We believe this will improve the overall quality of the election.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we are mindful of the fact that we are not in normal times. As such we have put in place stringent safety protocols and procured the necessary items to ensure the safety and security of all stakeholders at our centres. We were able to test our safety protocols during the 38-day registration exercise. This will be replicated on Election Day. Interestingly, we saw a rapid decline in the Covid-19 cases, during and after the registration exercise.
Beyond the Polling Stations, we have also put in place arrangements at our collation centres to curb the spread of the virus. Projectors and screens have been provided in each of the 275 collation centres and 16 regional collation centres, on which results would be displayed. This will prevent the gathering of persons around laptops to view the collated results, thereby minimising crowding, and curbing the spread of the virus. We are confident that the training afforded to our 38,662 plus COVID 19 Ambassadors will result in an efficient implementation of our safety protocols nationwide.
Recruitment and Training of Staff
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, recognising that the performance of our field officers is key to the success of the election, we provided a three-week rigorous training program on all aspects of the election cycle to some 240,000 field officials. Additionally, and for the first time in the Commission’s history, all field officials have signed a binding and enforceable code of conduct to abide by the guidelines and directives of the Commission. We are confident that, with the skills acquired and Codes of Conduct signed, our field officials will deliver their functions efficiently and effectively.
Biometric Verification Equipment
As you may be aware, the Commission has procured seventy-four thousand, eight hundred (74,800) brand new biometric verification devices to enhance the integrity and credibility of the polls. The devices have been prepared and distributed to the polling stations across the country. We are confident that the enhanced features of the devices will speed up the verification process and go a long way to ensure that only persons whose biometric details are captured in our system vote on the Election Day. It is important to note that the device has a record of both fingerprints as well as the facial features of each unique individual. As a result, in the event where an individual has lost the use of his/her fingers, the facial recognition feature will be employed to identify the voter. We are confident that the use of both features will go a long way to enhance the integrity of the Polls.
Feedback from the recent special voting which took place on the 1st of December 2020, indicates that the equipment functioned effectively and enabled the prompt verification of voters at the polling centres. We believe that the efficiency of the devices will enhance the voters experience on Election Day.
2020 Voters Register
Distinguished Citizens, as you may be aware, the Commission has prepared a new Biometric Voter’s Register in time for the election. We are pleased to note that the register embodies unique individuals only. To date, the register has a total no of seventeen million and twenty-seven thousand, nine hundred and seventy-one (17,027,971) Voters. We are confident in the credibility and integrity of the 2020 Voters Register.
Last week, the Commission made the Register available to the citizenry in three (3) electronic formats to enable registered Voters seamlessly check their details ahead of the Elections.
We encourage Voters who have not checked their details to do so as it comes at no cost to the Voter.
Voters may visit the Commission Website Register – at https://registers.ec.gov.gh and enter their 10-digit Voter ID card number on the website application to confirm their details.
The second option available for checking a person’s details is by using the USSD code – *711*2020#.
To access their details, registered voters need to dial *711*2020# on any phone and network, enter their Voter ID card number and the Polling Station Code where they registered. Please note that this information is available on the voter’s Voter Card. A valid voter will get a response on their phone.
The third option is to use an android phone application whose link details are on our website. In all three cases, the Voter will receive confirmation of their name on the register as well as their Date of Birth and their Polling Station Code & Name.
We are happy to note that the feedback from Voters who have used this service options has been very positive and encouraging. We have heard only good news. This is a testament of the hard work put in by all the Commission’s staff, both permanent and temporary to ensure a credible Voters Register.
Number of Polling Stations for Election 2020
For the 2020 Election, the Commission has created thirty-eight thousand, six hundred and twenty-two (38,622) polling stations across the country. This is some ten thousand (10,000) Polling Stations more than the 2016 polling stations. The threshold set for the Polling Stations is seven hundred and forty-nine (749) Voters per Polling Stations. It is important to note however that more than 70% of the Polling Stations have five hundred (500) Voters or less. We have reduced the threshold to minimise overcrowding and long queues at our Polling Stations. We have no doubt that voters will enjoy a hassle-free and seamless experience at all polling stations across the country.
In our bid to be responsive to the citizenry and to provide them with prompt and timely feedback, we have established a Call Centre to enable voters to relay their concerns and feedback to the Commission on Election Day. A toll-free number has been set aside for this purpose. The number is 0800-100-100. Voters will not be charged for making calls to this number. The call centre will be open from 6 am – 6 pm on Election Day and callers may use any network to contact the Commission.
Misplaced Voter ID Cards
This comes to inform the general public that any citizen who has misplaced his or her Voters’ ID card, can still vote as their details are on the biometric verification devices. As such, we entreat this category of voters to go to the Polling Station where they registered to cast their VOTE.
Provision of Masks in Polling Stations in Rural Areas
In response to concerns relating to disenfranchising citizens who visit the Polling Stations without masks, the Commission will provide masks in Polling Stations in rural communities to ensure that Voters who visit our Polling Stations without masks are provided masks to enable them exercise their franchise. This facility is restricted to Polling Stations in Rural Communities only.
Declaration of Results in Twenty-Four Hours
Distinguished guests, in our bid to reduce tension and suspicions around the election, we plan to declare the results within 24 hours. While this may seem over-ambitious to some, others have expressed concern about the accuracy of results declared just 24 hours after the election. I assure you, that the declared results will be a true reflection of the will of the people as documented on the pink sheets. The only aspect of our processes that has changed is the efficiency that we have built into them. We are confident that with the total commitment from all our officials, we will witness the timely delivery of the 2020 presidential results, God being our helper.
Posting of Results on the Website
In our bid to keep our stakeholders informed and to provide them with accurate results before the declaration of results, the Commission will post regular updates of results on its website. As you are aware, the results are certified results and may take slightly longer to upload because of the processes in place. However, we have put in place mechanisms to ensure the release of timely results.
On the issue of security, a year ago we initiated engagements with the National Elections Security Task Force headed by the Inspector-General of Police. To date, we have provided them with relevant information including details of our polling stations, collation centres and conflict-prone areas. We are confident that the arrangements of the Security Agencies will contribute to ensuring law and order throughout the election process.
Declaration of Results
By Law, the Electoral Commission is the only body/ institution cloaked with the power and authority to declare the Presidential and Parliamentary results. We, therefore, caution all stakeholders, i.e. the Political Parties and the Media to desist from declaring the results.
We have indicated our intention to declare the final certified results in a timely manner and we will do so, God being our helper. We call on all stakeholders to remain patient and leave the EC to perform its functions.
Finally, distinguished citizens, we cannot close our curtains today Let the Citizens Know without expressing our sincere gratitude to you. You have kept faith with us and walked this journey with us. Your feedback has helped strengthen our work and process and left us much better than we started. We thank you.
To our Media Partners, we thank you for partnering with us. You have worked to ensure that the truth and facts regarding our work is received by the citizen. We could not have come this far without you. We say thank you.
We entreat you to remain true to your creed and your profession. At such a critical time in our country’s destiny, the fact and the truth only is what should be disseminated. We urge you to remain decorous in your reportage.
As the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, I pledge on behalf of the entire Commission that we will remain true to our motto and operate with fairness and integrity and promote transparency till the very end. God being our helper.
This is a final call to all our Staff and Field Officials, Let truth guide you and Let integrity preserve you. We assure you our distinguished citizens that the results that will be delivered will reflect the will of the people and the will of the people only as expressed on the ballots and on the pink sheets.
Finally, we encourage all voters to go out tomorrow Monday the 7th and cast their votes peacefully. Remember your vote is your power.
We urge you all to continue to pray for the peace of our dear nation.
I leave you with the words of the hymn of God our help of ages past.
O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our Eternal Home.
May God bless our homeland Ghana and make our Nation Great.
LET PEACE REIGN.