My Take: Let me attempt to break this all down to the point where it will be easier for everyone to understand the election processes, and whether or not there is any legitimate case at all for this petition at the Supreme Court without credible numbers from primary source documents of evidentiary value.
So a presidential election is conducted at over 38,000 polling stations within 275 constituencies in 16 regions of a country called the Republic of Ghana, for twelve presidential candidates. To be a winner, a presidential candidate must obtain 50% plus one vote of the total valid votes cast. The election laws and regulations allow presidential candidates to have two representatives called polling agents at each of the polling stations, constituency collation centers, regional collation centers, and then four representatives at the national collation center, where all the entire polling results are collated and declared by the returning electoral officer.
The election laws also make provisions for copies of election results or records at each point in the processes to be given to the reps of the presidential candidates, while the election body, Electoral Commission, keeps the original record. So at every point in the process the EC officials and the reps of the presidential candidates have the same number of documents and results from the votes tally.
On the election day, elections are held in 38,000 polling stations accros the country. Copies of “Pink Sheets” that are generated at the polling stations after votes are cast and collated are given to each of the reps. The reps sign or may indicate on the Pink Sheet if they have any issues at all with the election at the polling station.
Results from the polling stations are transmitted by the polling officer to the constituency collation center whereby all the results from the polling stations within the constituency are put together and tabulated to have one total result for each of the presidential candidates. Copies of the constituency collation results are given to the two reps of the presidential candidates. Reps may sign or indicate if they have issues with the results. The results at this level is then transmitted to the regional collation center.
At the regional collation center, all the results from each of the constituencies in the region are received, put together and collated to have one summary result for each of the presidential candidates. Reps sign regional summary results and copies of the records are given to them. The election officer here then transmits the copy of the summary results to the national collation center, hereinafter called the “Strong Room”.
At the national collation center which is the penultimate in the election process, all the summary results from the 16 regions are received, put together and summed up to get over all total for each of the twelve presidential candidates. Given the nature of work involve at this level, presidential candidates are allowed four reps to represent them, as earlier indicated. Reps are allowed to sign-off on all the summary collation results as they come from the regions to assure authenticity of the results as shown for their respective candidates.
The final stage in the presidential election process is for the returning officer of the EC to collate all the summary results from the regions and declare the winner of the election based on the final results of valid votes. Understand that the final result as collated and declared by the presidential returning officer is made up of the votes that are cast at the polling stations, transmitted to the constituency collation centers, and forwarded to the regional collation centers, then finally to the national collation center.
So it is save to say that any of the presidential candidates that are serious and can add numbers together should be able to know the total number of valid votes that they receive based on the primary source document called the PINK SHEET, or from the constituency collation results, or from the regional summary results. This means that it would not matter at all if the presidential returning officer is unable to add numbers together and mistakenly declares for a wrong presidential candidate. Why? Because there are substantive source documents all around in the process to serve as proof of evidence to challenge the results at any level within reasonable time.
However, you will have issues if you are a presidential candidate and want to challenge the validity of the results without being able to proof or show with numbers. Remember that the returning officer who sits at the national collation center also receives the same results from the regions that are signed by the reps whether the numbers are good or bad. And note that duplicate copies of election records are as good as originals in the hands of the EC.
So if you are a serious candidate how do you go to an apex court and claim that nobody won the election and that you want a rerun without producing any numbers to proof your case? Or, just say the returning officer made a mistake of using total votes as a denominator in determining the percentages instead of total valid votes for the candidates, therefore the election must be annulled while you know the right results?
On a lighter note, in the petition to the court the petitioner called for a rerun between himself and the returning officer who was never a candidate in the presidential election. Petitioner is then allowed to correct his mistakes in court. So, here it is okay for the petitioner to correct his mistakes but it is an abomination or constitutional whatever when the returning officer on her own corrects her mistakes that do not in any way impact the overall results, right?
The substantive issue is the lack of proof in court. Allegation without credible evidence? Execuse me, please. But you cannot go to court and leave your numbers in your closet or kitchen and expect to call the returning officer (who is your opponent) to see her copies of the same pink sheets you have; or ask the officer to demonstrate to you how she called the election from the same primary source documents in possession of all the presidential candidates. The burning ask is this: Is it because the presidential candidate or his representatives only speak English grammar and so cannot add simple numbers from 38,000 sheets together?
Don’t talk to us about truth and accountability. Truth or accountability is why presidential candidates are allowed to have representatives throughout all the election processes. In fact, not only the EC officials but all the representatives and their candidates are accountable to the people of Ghana. And that is why they all get copies of all the election records. So can you tell Ghanaians that only the EC is accountable but not the presidential candidates and their representatives who were also part of the election processes?
Question we should ask is: How do you become a president of a nation of 30 million people if you cannot employ people that can add simple numbers from 38,000 plus pink sheets?
Ultimately, this petition or next election has all to do with numbers and no or very little to do about long speeches and grammar. Hence, the earlier the petitioner stops wasting resources on lawyers/litigation now to hiring accountants that can add numbers the better for him come 2024, since that seems to be his main objective for this petition. If you allege, you must proof. It’s that simple.
By Kofi Boateng