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Errors can occur in elections – Afari-Gyan

The Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, yesterday conceded that errors could occur during an election because of the huge numbers involved in elections.

He explained that two types of errors could easily be made at the collation centres, and named one of them as transposition error which involved entering spots wrongly when care was not taken in entering figures on the collation forms.

The other type of error, he explained, was taking the score from the pink sheet onto the collation sheet.

He cited the instance of entering of 11,000 as 1,100 and vice versa, adding that “we tell people to watch out for such errors.”

Filling of Pink Sheet 

Dr Afari-Gyan explained that the law required aspects of the Statement of Poll and Declaration of Result for the office of President, also known as pink sheet, to be filled before the commencement of poll on election day and indicated that, “if not, there is an irregularity.”

For instance Section A and B are expected to be filled out before voting commences.

Section A1 to A2 requires ballot information. Under this section, the presiding officer is expected to answer questions like – what is the number of ballots issued to this polling station and what is the range of serial numbers of the ballot papers issued to the polling station.

Section B – Information about the register and the other lists at the polling station.

Thus B1 to B3 requires – the number of voters on the polling station register, the number of voters on the proxy voters list and the total number of voters eligible to vote at a particular polling station.

Declaring that the filling of Section C3 of the pink sheet by presiding officers as an error, Dr Afar-Gyan said, presiding officers were instructed not to fill Section C 3 which required the number of ballots issued to voters verified by the use of Form 1C, but not by the use of biometric verification device.

The petitioners are alleging that 535,723 voters voted without biometric verification and are accordingly calling for the annulment of those votes.

Led by the counsel for the EC, Mr James Quashie-Idun to give his evidence-in-chief, the Chairman of the EC said the bio data of some voters were lost although the daily print out clearly indicated they had been captured by the biometric machine during the registration process.

To avoid disenfranchising those people on voting day, he explained, that the EC had proposed to issue out form 1C to enable such persons to vote but the political parties kicked against the idea and as a result, the forms were abandoned.

He explained presiding officers would have been required to issue out the forms to potential voters whose bio data had been lost on the biometric machine but had been previously issued with voter identity cards.

Following the objection from the political parties, he stated that the electoral officials were trained not to fill out the C3 section of the pink sheets but for some reason they ended up entering numbers to indicate persons voted without undergoing biometric verification.

He said filling out that portion would amount to error but stated that, there was the need for an analysis to find out if there was actually an error or not.

According to him he preferred that the number 0 to be written at the spaces for C3 because, “I do not like blank spaces in election forms because anyone can put a figure there.”

Asked what happened on voting day, Dr Afari-Gyan said Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey and some party officials had attempted to halt the declaration of the presidential results because they suspected some discrepancies had occurred but he went ahead to declare the results because they could not prove their allegations.

Last to see Results

Dr Afari-Gyan informed the court that he was the last person to see election results and indicated that presiding officers, polling agents, returning officers and party representatives had seen and signed the results before he does.

He also explained that voting continued in 412 polling stations across the country on December 8, 2012 because biometric verification machines for those polling stations had broken down on December 7, 2012.

The Petition

The hearing of the substantive petition began on April 17, 2013.

So far Dr Bawumia has testified on behalf of the petitioners and has been cross examined by lawyers for President Mahama, the EC and the NDC.

The General Secretary of the NDC, Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia, has also given evidence on behalf of the NDC and President Mahama, and has since been cross examined by the other parties in the case.

The petitioners have alleged that the December 7 and 8, 2012 presidential election was fraught with malpractices of over-voting, non-signing of pink sheets by presiding officers or their assistants, voting without biometric verification and duplicated serial numbers of pink sheets.

However, President Mahama, the EC and, the NDC have denied that any such irregularities occurred during the election.

Source: Graphic Online

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