The Electoral Commission (EC) on Monday set-out acts and inactions that may constitute electoral offences in Election 2012 and called on the political parties and other democratic stakeholders to respect the laws or face the consequences.
The offences include: to make or publish, by written or spoken word or by song, a false statement about the personal character of another candidate or the conduct of a political party; and to excite enmity against a person, group of persons, or political party on grounds of religious, ethnic, professional, regional, or political affiliation.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency in Accra, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, the EC Chairman, explained that a careful examination of the offences indicated that an election official, a polling agent, a party official, a candidate, a voter, or any member of the general public could commit an election offence.
“To give or receive money or something of value as a means of inducing a person to vote, or not to vote, in a certain way; to use or threaten to use force or violence against a person or group of persons; and to inflict or threaten to inflict physical or spiritual injury or harm on a person.
“A person found guilty of an election offence may be fined or imprisoned or both. For some offences, a person may also be qualified from voting in subsequent elections or from holding public office,” he stated.
Sanctions includes a fine not exceeding 500 penalty units; or imprisonment not exceeding two years; or both fine and imprisonment; and five year disqualification.
A list of the Election 2012 offences obtained by the GNA indicates that to organize or train a group of persons in the use of force or violence for election purposes, to compel or induce a candidate to withdraw his or her candidature; and to canvass for votes or seek to find out how a person intends to vote within 500 metres of a polling station.
To remove any notice lawfully exhibited in connection with an election; to intentionally destroy a ballot paper or any form related to an election; to impede, or prevent a voter from freely exercising his or her right to vote as an offence; and to take to a polling station anything that reveals the candidate or party you intend to vote for.
Others are to forge, print or be in possession of a ballot paper without lawful authority; to tamper, or attempt to tamper, in any way with the contents of a ballot box; to misconduct yourself as an election official; and to impede, or prevent a voter from freely exercising his/her right to vote.
To force somebody to vote in a particular way; to put anything other than a ballot paper into a ballot box when an election is in progress; to vote in the name of another person-living, dead or fictitious; and to vote or attempt to vote if you are not qualified to do so.
To attempt to vote before the poll officially opens, or after it closes; to have your name in the voter’s register of more than one polling station.