The European Union observers (EOM) in a rather diplomatic tone have indicted the Jean Mensa-led electoral processes of the December 7 general elections, saying collation of the results were “Less transparent”.
In its post-election report, the EU observer mission stated: “Collation of results at the constituency level was observed in 35 constituency collation centres with many of them being visited repeatedly. Collation process was less well organised and less transparent often due to a lack of detailed procedures, inadequate facilities and overcrowding which at times led to agents and observers not having a clear view of the procedures and the filling in of result forms.”
The EU EOM observers also reported several irregularities, such as voters not always marking their ballot in secrecy, mainly due to poor layout of polling stations; biometric verification devices (BVD) not always able to successfully verify the voters (9 per cent); presence of unauthorised persons inside the polling stations (8 per cent) and interference with the work of the polling station staff.
This observation by the EOM echoes controversies that have arisen from the elections which is one of the bloodiest and the most controversial in the Fourth Republic.
Soldiers have been allegedly used to arm-twist electoral officers to switch results from the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) to the incumbent New Patriotic Party (NPP). The Electoral Commission (EC) itself has been forced to change its figures several times after it had officially declared the presidential results.
Critics say the EC was faced with that thorny predicament because it relied on dubious collation sheets to aggregate the results of the parliamentary and presidential elections.
The EU observers also noted massive media bias in reporting in events leading to the elections, saying, “Various private media analysed by the EU EOM showed biased coverage in favour of the NPP (UTV, The Chronicle, Daily Guide) or the NDC (Adom FM and Joy FM).”
The observation of the EU mission was observed in the way the media projected the election results, particularly the powerful Multimedia Group, the Despite Group, state-owned GTV, TV3, etc., which projected questionable data that largely did not accurately tally with the figures coming from the polling stations
There were significant manipulations of numbers by media houses purporting to be projecting election results for both the parliamentary and presidential elections.
The manipulations comprise subtly reductions and increases in the results of any of the two main presidential contenders: John Dramani Mahama and incumbent President Akufo Addo. In some instances, the media had simply switched the results of the two candidates and had projected it on their screen.
In other instances, the media organisations had dubiously miscalculated the aggregates of the two candidates.
Yet, when the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) held press conferences to clarify that the projected numbers of the media were largely false and that they have a more authentic collation from their polling agents, the Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah held a fiery press conference on Tuesday, December 8, 2020, claiming to debunk the claims of the NDC and consequently endorsing the questionable numbers being churned out by a cross-section of the media.
“The Ghanaian media is littered across all the 275 constituencies and their collation centres, you [the media] are the ones reporting this. If indeed anybody had gained 140 seats by now, you will know…We do not think that it lies in any candidates mouth…you the media are observing at all the 275 collation centres across the country and you yourself can confirm that they do not have a parliamentary majority,” Oppong Nkrumah stated.
A typical example of media massaging of the election numbers was in the Builsa North Constituency in the Upper East Region, where the Declaration Form (Pink Sheets) signed by the agents of the incumbent Akufo Addo and John Mahama shows that Mr. Mahama won the polls with total votes amounting to 16,654 while President Akufo Addo managed only 6,931 votes.
However, when projecting results from the constituency, the Multimedia Group’s so-called Election Headquarters swapped the results and gave John Mahama 6,931 votes. This was widely broadcasted and published on their television and social media platforms respectively.
Also, a quick comparison between the certified results of the Presidential results from seven regions as posted on its website by the Electoral Commission shows that the Multimedia group has subtly hacked off bits of the results allotted mostly to ex-President Mahama and rarely on results of President Akufo Addo.
Civil society groups and the general public have been exasperated by the error-fraught election results.
The opposition NDC has rejected the results and has vowed to fight it with all legal means.