EC To Produce Evidence On Ballot Papers

The  Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), who is also the key witness for the second respondent in the ongoing 2012 presidential election petition hearing, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, yesterday told the Supreme Court that he cannot recall the number of ballot papers printed for the 2012 elections.

He, however, stated that the figure was communicated to the various political parties after the printing was done.
Dr. Afari-Gyan made the assertion when he was cross-examined by the lead counsel of the petitioners, Philip Addison yesterday.

It was the day 29 of the hearing and the third day that Mr. Addison has been cross-examining the witness.
When counsel asked the witness whether he knew the number of printing houses that printed the ballot papers, Dr. Afari-Gyan stated that they were seven.

Counsel asked further whether all the political parties had representation at all those printing houses and the witness answered in the affirmative.

Mr. Addison then questioned how the number of ballot papers printed were communicated to the parties.
Witness said letters were written to them, and he promised to produce the letter today, at the request of counsel for the petitioners.

Asked whether witness could recall the names of the printing houses, he mentioned ASTS Commercials, Assembly Press, Buck Press, Check Point, Fonstat, Innokak and Yasco.

When Mr. Addison suggested to the witness that the difference between the number as per the EC’s register given to the New Patriotic Party (NPP), of registered voters at 11,115 polling stations, there was a difference of 962,888 on the pink sheets, he said, he did not know the basis for the assertion being made by the petitioners.

Mr. Addison pressed further and insisted that the total number of registered voters in the 11,115 polling stations was 11,511,207 which meant the number of ballot papers printed was 10 per cent higher than the total number of registered voters, and suggested that the number of ballots printed should be 15.5 million and not the EC’s 14.3million.

Mr. James Quarshie-Idun, counsel for the EC, raised two objections on the questions, but these had no effect.
Mr. Addison maintained that per their analysis, over 80 per cent of ballot papers were printed and sent to the various polling stations, instead of the 10 per cent the EC itself agreed.

Mr. Addison then delved  into special voting and the witness affirmed that voting took place at polling stations with some of the voting centres having codes while others did not.

When he proceeded to the special voters list, Dr. Afari-Gyan gave a category of people classified under special voting and said people who due to their work may not be able to vote on voting day were made to vote early.

The witness disagreed that pink sheets were not used in special voting and again disagreed that special voting were recorded directly on the collation form.

Dr. Afari-Gyan agreed to a suggestion by lead counsel for the petitioners, that once somebody applied to be a special voters, his/her name still remained on the original register at his/her polling station and would not be transferred to a newly designated station.

Dr. Afari-Gyan said he did not know where exactly the pink sheets were printed because there was no printing house in Ghana that had the capacity to print the pink sheets. Pressed further, the witness said, Buck Press, a local printing press, was contacted to print them abroad, but did not know the country.

Asked whether the various political parties were informed about the printing of the pink sheets abroad, the witness replied in the negative saying “it is not everything we have to tell the parties and we requested for numbers to be printed on them”.

Dr. Afari-Gyan said the Commission ordered 27,000 booklets of pink sheets with each containing individual sheets but decided to print two sets since it would be difficult to write on the first sheet to make it legible in duplicated copies.  It printed 12 booklets for  the parliamentary elections.

When the lead counsel for the petitioners asked the witness to explain the relevance of serial numbers on ballot papers and on pink sheets he said “numbers on ballot papers were sensitive materials but numbers on ballot papers and pink sheets are not in the same category of sensitivity”.

He added that “there are different degrees of sensitivity since a pink sheet with nothing written on it is not as sensitive as that on the ballot paper”.

Asked why 18 individual pink sheets were ordered for the presidential elections but 12 for the parliamentary elections, Dr. Afari-Gyan explained that at the time the elections were drawing nearer it appeared there were going to be more than eight presidential candidates, four were disqualified and decided to take the EC to court and lost.

The witness further explained that two others who had threatened to go to court but did not and several others who took nomination forms but never showed up, so in effect over 16 presidential candidates were being considered; hence, the ordering for 18 sheets.

When Mr. Addison suggested to the witness that at the time the order for the printing of the pink sheets, the balloting for the candidates had been done, he explained that printing could not have started before the ballot had taken place.

On another suggestion to the witness that his reason  there could be more candidates that was why the Commission printed 18 spaces could not be true, because if that was the case, he would have left eight blank spaces to cater for the possibility, he disagreed.

Earlier, the presiding judge of the nine-member panel, Justice William Atuguba, informed the parties of a meeting scheduled for yesterday between KPMG, the international audit firm and the bench at 2 p.m.

He mentioned another correspondent from the petitioners for a meeting scheduled for today at about 8:30a.m., but Tony Lithur, counsel for President John Mahama, the first respondent said the timing was inconvenient since as practitioners they had other engagements.

When Justice Atuguba suggested to him to find ways that the meeting did not disrupt the hearing, Mr. Lithur said there was no guarantee how long the meeting would last.

Mr. James Quarshie-Idun, counsel for the EC, suggested that the meeting be held yesterday afternoon, so that there would be enough time to trash outstanding issues.

When two members of the panel of judges, Justice Paul Baffoe-Bonnie and Justice James Dotse informed Mr. Addison to in future consult with all the parties involved in the hearing, he took it in good faith, which enabled the hearing to be adjourned at 2 p.m. to pave way for the meeting.

The petitioners, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, his running mate, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, and Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, are challenging the result of the 2012 presidential elections in which the Electoral Commission (EC) declared President John Mahama the winner.

They are contending that ‘gross and widespread’ irregularities took place in the 11,916 polling stations.
The petitioners are, therefore, calling for the annulment of 4,670,504 votes cast in the 11,916 polling stations.

But, President Mahama, the Electoral Commission (EC) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) first, second and third respondents respectively, have denied any wrongdoing, and are of the view that the polls were free, fair and transparent and for that reason the results were credible and accurate.

The nine-member panel of judges hearing the case is presided over by Justice William Atuguba. Other members are Justice Julius Ansah, Mrs. Justice Sophia Adinyira, Ms. Justice Rose Owusu, Justice Jones Dotse, Justice Annin Yeboah, Justice Paul Baffoe-Bonnie, Justice N.S. Gbadegbe and Mrs Justice Vida Akoto-Bamfo.

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