The Electoral Commission (EC) has advised Mr Peter Mac Manu, Campaign Manager of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), to seek redress on the Electronic Results Transmission System (ERTS) for the 2016 elections through the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC).
The Commission reiterated that IPAC is the appropriate forum at which concerns about ERTS should be discussed.The Commission was of the view that any concerns regarding the implementation of this proposal, should again be brought to the IPAC, where they were conceived for implementation by the Commission.
A statement signed by Mr Eric Kofi Dzakpasu, EC Head of Communications, and copied to the Ghana News Agency seeks to clarify the concern raised by Mr Mac Manu, a former NPP Chairman, on the tender process of the ERTS through various media platforms.
The EC said it has taken note of Mr Mac Manu’s public comments about the agreed results transmission process, especially the legality of the said system…“We however wish to point out that Mr Mac Manu was a member of the Legal Committee of IPAC and was intimately and significantly involved in the drafting of the two important regulations C.I.91 and C.I.94 (which regulate registration of voters and the elections)”.
It said Mr Mac Manu also appeared before the parliamentary committee for Subsidiary Legislation chaired by Mr Osei Bonsu Amoah, who is also a regular representative of the NPP at IPAC.
It said in the view of the Commission, Mr Mac Manu had ample opportunity to raise the issue of the inclusion of the ERTS in the law either at IPAC, or the Legal Committee of IPAC where the law was drafted; or even before the subsidiary legislation committee of Parliament.
“It is the expectation of the EC that all political party representatives on Committees (collectively set up by IPAC) will raise any concern they may have about any reform or the electoral process at IPAC to be discussed and addressed collectively,” it said.
The statement said the Commission had always dealt with political party leaders and other stakeholders with utmost good faith and on the basis of trust.
It said it was, therefore, natural for the Commission to expect that the political parties will relate to us on the same terms.
The statement said as a matter of fact, the results transmitted through the ERTS would remain provisional and since they do not replace the manual results process captured in the Law, in the view of the EC, the legal committee of IPAC, and IPAC, there was no need to capture the process in the law.
The EC said the ERTS was part of the several reform proposals made by the Electoral Reform Committee which was set up by the Commission after the 2013 Supreme Court judgment on the Presidential Election Petition.
The members of the Reform Committee included: Ms Georgina Opoku Amankwaa, EC Deputy Chairperson; Mrs Rebecca Kabukie Adjalo, EC Member; Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, National Democratic Congress; Mr Kwabena Agyei Agyepong, NPP; Mr James Kwabena Bomfeh Jnr, Convention People’s Party; and Mr Anin-Kofi Addo, Yes People’s Party.
The rest are Dr Ransford Gyampo, Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA); Mr Kwesi Jonah, Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG); and Dr Franklin Oduro, Centre for Democratic Development –Ghana (CDD-Ghana).
The statement said additionally, under the new C.I. to regulate elections, all political parties and candidates are entitled to have counting agents present during the counting and collation of results.
It said the Commission would also want to emphasize that the ERTS does not replace the manual collation process which requires agents of political parties to attest to the accuracy of results before declaration by presiding officers.
The statement said at IPAC, in the event of a discrepancy between results from the ERTS and the manual results, the manual results would take precedence.
It noted that this makes it impossible for anyone to attempt to alter declared results in the transmission process.
It said the Commission would like to assure the public that no decision has yet been made on the vendor for the ERTS.
The statement said said in furtherance of their commitment to transparency, the Commission intended to make vendor selection process as inclusive as possible.
It said the planned demonstration exercise was a key stage in the selection process and after the completion of the evaluation, a number of vendors were listed to present their proposed solutions to the various stakeholders, including the political parties.
“Indeed we already had invitations prepared to be sent out from the week beginning of August 1, to all relevant stakeholders to participate in the demonstration exercise,” it stated.
The statement said the Commission would only make a decision on the vendor after this exercise has been completed.
“We would like to assure everyone, particularly, the political parties that our doors are always open for any clarifications or concerns they may have on our processes. As our key partners in delivering credible and transparent electoral outcome, we will continue to engage the parties on all our processes leading up to the 2016 elections,” it said.
It said the decision to put in place an electronic results transmission system (ERTS) for the 2016 elections was not taken unilaterally by the Commission.
The statement said the Committee’s proposal on the ERTS said: “It is recommended that hand-held scanners should be used to scan constituency collation forms that contain the polling station results and sent electronically and directly to the National Collation Centre. The hard copies would be sent physically to the Head Office of the EC.
“Justification: The transparency of the collation of the votes is critical to the acceptability of the declaration of the results.
“Therefore, these steps should be taken to further open up the collation process to as many members of the public as possible.
“Where people are assured of openness, they tend to trust the electoral process and ignore rumors of manipulation of results. This engenders trust in the process”.
The statement said as obvious from the above extract from the Committee’s recommendations, the EC only accepted to implement a proposal and decision which was taken by the Committee and collectively accepted by all the political parties at the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) level.
It said the Commission holds the view that the basis for the recommendation of the ERTS by the Reform Committee was valid and it deepens the integrity and transparency of the election results collation process.
The statement said at an IPAC meeting held on June 12, 2015, the Commission adequately briefed the political parties on all the reforms as proposed and subsequently accepted by the Commission.