The National Democratic Congress (NDC) says it disagrees with the Electoral Commission on the proposal to close polls at 3pm in the 2024 general elections and other future elections.
According to the NDC, the move could disenfranchise many people especially “poor farmers” in rural areas who may want to go to the farm early morning when polls have not opened and return to vote in the evening.
The Director of Elections at the NDC, Mr Elvis Afriyie Ankrah said this at a press conference in Accra, Thursday afternoon [May 20, 2021].
The EC is planning reforms which is to ensure the closure of polls in the 2024 general elections at 3pm on election day instead of the usual 5pm.
This will mean that, no one will be admitted to the polling station to cast their ballot after 3pm but if a voter happens to be in the queue after 3pm, voting will continue until everybody in the queue has voted.
The move is to help pave the way for early counting of votes and declaration of results at the polling station, and to avoid the inconveniences associated with the late close of polls.
The reform forms part of a 16-point proposal by the EC that was agreed on by the Interparty Advisory Committee (IPAC) at the end of a two-day review workshop of the 2020 general elections in Accra.
The workshop was attended by over 10 political parties including the New Patriotic Party (NPP), People’s National Convention (PNC), Convention People’s Party (CPP), Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP), National Democratic Party (NDP) and the Ghana Union Movement (GUM).
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) did not participate in the workshop.
The NDC has already indicated that since it has issues with the 2020 general elections which to them, the EC has not resolved as of now, the party will therefore not participate in any IPAC meeting to review the 2020 elections.
The workshop reviewed issues and proposals relating to voter registration, exhibition exercise, filing of nominations, election security, collation of results as well as the successes and challenges that came with the 2020 elections.
Addressing the press conference, Mr Afriyie Ankrah said the NDC finds the proposal to change the closing time from 5pm to 3pm “baffling and mind boggling.”
He said the closure of polls at 5pm since 1992 has worked perfectly without any challenges and wondered why the EC wants to change it and go for a “poorly thought through alternative which is bound to disenfranchise eligible voters and create needless problems for our electoral system.”
“Even with the 5 o’clock, there are instances in some parts of the country that because materials did not arrive early, voting continued beyond 5 o’clock, machines got spoilt etc… and then now you want to close at 3 o’clock. Ghana is not Accra and Kumasi. In some of the rural areas, the poor farmers there have to go to the farm, get some food for the day before they come and vote. So you create a situation where you are going to create unnecessary panic and confusion, is this necessary at this time,” he questioned.
Mr Afriyie Ankrah said the “current arrangement of closing polls at 5pm has worked perfectly in seven general elections in this country and does not require any fixing.”