The National Democratic Institute’s (NDI) International, an election observer mission to Ghana’s 2016 elections, has tasked the Police to investigate all election–related offences and work with the office of the Attorney General to prosecute offenders.
It explained that the prosecution of such wrongdoers would serve as deterrence to those who would want to act in future with impunity.
This was contained in a statement issued by the NDI that observed the just ended presidential and parliamentary elections.
The statement said political parties should disband party affiliated vigilante groups, and encourage party youths to engage peacefully in electoral and political processes.
It commended the security services for the roles saying, they largely played positive and professional roles at the polling stations.
“Nearly without exception, the police and other security services deployed within the polling stations maintained a non-intrusive profile, and managed both queues and disputes in a calm and professional manner,” said the statement.
The statement noted that in the months leading to the elections, Ghanaians expressed grave concerns about hate speech and the propagation of misinformation, particularly, through social media.
“In one notable case, the Electoral Commission’s (EC) efforts at voter education were almost undermined by a rumour that texting a voter ID number to a contact number established by the EC to help voters determine their polling station locations, would cause the voter’s name to be deleted from the voter register,” it said.
The NDI also noted that whilst most journalists ensured responsible, objective and issue-oriented election reporting, others did not responsibly verify information received before broadcasting, which contributed to the rumour mill.
The NDI observed that voter turnout was satisfactory, with special consideration being given to the elderly and pregnant women.
It said party agents from the two major parties, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP), were well represented in almost all the polling stations, adding that, these agents also conducted themselves in a mutually respectful manner.
Non-partisan citizen observers were deployed in significant numbers in almost all of the polling sites visited, the statement noted, adding that the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) for example, deployed 8,000 citizen observers across the country.
The delegation noted a significant reduction in the number of rejected ballots, compared with previous Ghanaian elections, which indicated successful voter education efforts by the EC, civil society organisations and the media, it said.
The statement urged the EC to undertake thorough post-election review of the conduct of the 2016 polls, both internally and with election stakeholders, and adopt appropriate recommendations on improvements to the process in order to attain and consolidate best practices.
It also urged the government to initiate electoral reforms in the next legislature, prioritising issues such as revising the current voter register, or developing a new one, in order to ensure that all eligible Ghanaians had a genuine opportunity to exercise their rights to vote.
The NDI is a non-profit, non-partisan organisation, working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.