The Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG) and the Civic Forum Initiative (IDEG-CFI) on Wednesday suggested that a mandatory date be set for local government elections as is the case in national elections.
This would ensure that relevant state agencies played their roles in the organisation of district level elections effectively with time, it said in a statement.
Commenting on the rescheduling of district level elections because ballot papers were not ready for the poll to be conducted on December 28, it said the regulatory framework for the local government elections should be reviewed to enable key stakeholders to participate in the management of the process along the lines of the national election.
The statement said in view of the enhanced roles that the elected assemblies were likely to play in accelerating development at the local level within Ghana’s emerging oil and the middle income economy, it was important that voter apathy was minimized, quality of elected candidates improved and the accountable and effective governance at the local level strengthened.
The statement said the challenges of the 2010 local government elections had far reaching consequences that ought to be analyzed to inform decision on future such elections.
It said the major source of the problem had been the apparent failure of the relevant state institutions such as the Ministry of Local Government, Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Parliament and the Electoral Commission to complete their preparation towards the elections in good time.
It said the late submission and passage of the Legislation Instrument (LI) 1983 by parliament, release of funds from government to the EC, the several changes in the date from the expected month of July to October 26 and finally to December 28, the peak of the Christmas holiday, were likely to reinforce voter apathy, the statement said.
“For instance, in 2002, voter turnout was 33 per cent while in 2006, it was 44 per cent.”
According to the statement the situation was more serious because Civil Society Organisations, media and political parties had not engaged the electoral process actively, especially in the vetting of candidates.
It added that getting the campaign messages of candidates across to the public had not been effectively done for the electorates assess their candidates.
The statement described as “unfortunate” the EC’s inability to organize platforms for candidates in all the 6,000 electoral areas as required.
This, it said, could lower voter turnout, lead to electoral malpractices and affect voter decision.
It appealed to the media, traditional leaders and faith-based organizations to actively encourage citizens in their communities to turn out in large numbers and stay vigilant against electoral malpractices.