EC Snubs Reforms Committee’s Recommendation on Collation Sheet

The Electoral Commission has failed to implement a very critical recommendation made by the Electoral Reforms Committee to ensure that the outcome of the upcoming presidential election is declared in a more transparent manner.

Among the major problems identified in respect of the previous election was that representatives of the political parties were not given copies of the Collation Sheets which formed the basis of the declaration of the election results made at the various constituency collation centres, making it difficult for appropriate checks to be done where necessary.

The committee, therefore, proposed that the returning officer at the constituency should be required by regulation to give a copy of the completed collation sheets, Forms EL 23A & EL 23B of the constituency to the candidates or their representatives.

The Committee accordingly suggested the amendment of Regulation 40 (1) (d) C.I75 to reflect same.

It again recommended that the constituency collation sheet should be prepared in an excel spreadsheet format and be projected unto a screen at the constituency collation centre for public scrutiny.

The committee provided a justification for its recommendation: “This will enable the candidate to closely study the collation to ascertain accuracy of the results and be able to challenge the collation in good time if there are grounds.”

It continued, “This would increase confidence in the electoral process,” adding that it would promote transparency in the collation and transmission of the election results.

As it stands now, representatives of political parties are not going to be given copies of the Collation Sheets which form the basis of the declaration of the election results made at the various constituency collation centres.

It was in this regard that a lawyer and former Director of Research at Parliament of Ghana, Kwesi Nyame-Tease Eshun, filed a writ at the Supreme Court, exposing this serious loophole in the new Public Elections Regulations, 2016 (CI 94).

The Supreme Court, on Thursday, October 27, 2016, is expected to rule on the case seeking to compel the EC to allow candidates or their agents to append their signatures on the constituency collation sheet and also be given a copy of it.

The petitioner, among other things, is asking the apex court of the land to declare as inconsistent with the Constitution and the duties of the EC the Commission’s the “failure to make provision in CI 94 requiring the Returning Officer and the contesting candidates or their representatives or counting agents to sign the Parliamentary Elections Results Collation Form and the Presidential Elections Collation Form.”

The writ which was filed on September 27 describes this failure as puzzling, arguing that the collation sheet is “strategic and critical” and it is “the endorsement of the signatures” that will validate the collation sheet “as an authentic record of the election.”

“It is contention that it is grossly unreasonable, arbitrary and non-transparent for Regulation 38(3) of CI 94 to require [the EC’s] Presiding Officer at the polling station to furnish the contesting candidates, their representatives or agents, with signed copies of the declaration of results (nor popularly called pink sheets) at the polling station, while not requiring the equally important, if not more strategic, full record of election results in the constituency to the candidates, their agents or representatives at the constituency collation centre,” the petitioner contends.

The petitioner, represented by Akoto Ampaw, reminds the Supreme Court that in the 2013 presidential election petition, even though the collation sheet was shown to be critical, only the EC had exclusive custody of it and denied the plaintiff’s request for all 275, with the court supporting the EC at the time, and as it turned out, under the false impression that all candidates or their agents were entitled to copies of the collation sheet.

Source: The New Statesman

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