By Robin Dopoe and Hannah N. Geterminah
Preliminary reports from the Elections Coordinating Committee and the EU- Election Observation Mission have determined that the National Elections Commission conducted the just ended runoff election in adherence to the election law, and the Supreme Court mandate.
The ECC report released yesterday revealed that unlike the October 10 first round election, where 41% of polling places remained open past the designated closing time (6:00 p.m.) as stipulated in the election law, 85% polls during the second round closed exactly by the designated time, and 15% closed 30 minutes after the designated time.
The report added that at 99% of polling places observed, the Final Registration Roll (FRR) was made public and that 98% of polling places vote tallying forms were systematically wall-posted which was not properly done before.
Oscar Bloh, ECC Steering Committee Chairman, said, of the 5390 polling places observed , NEC staff followed voting procedures meaning that the ballot papers were always stamped before being handed to voters; the voting screen was placed in way that guaranteed the secrecy of the vote and that voters were asked to present their voter cards before being allowed to vote.
“Additionally, NEC respected the Supreme Court mandate that called for voters whose names were not found on the FRR to be barred from voting.
“Voting and counting took place in a transparent manner and that they did not observe major incidents that could have undermined the integrity of the process” according to Mr. Bloh.
“We also observed that almost all of the polling places in the country had sufficient light during the counting process, and that presiding officers showed the marks on the ballot paper to observers and party agents before counting. Furthermore, security personnel were present during the counting process of the votes, amounting to 90%,” Mr. Bloh said.
He added that both parties that contested the runoff elections had sufficient presence of their party agents and in 5% of observed polling places, party agents filed a complaint-which indicates that party agents did not challenge the counting process in most polling places.
Maria Arena, the EU election observation mission chief observer noted that the additional deployment of queue controllers and their training had a positive impact on the election procedures in and outside the polling places, facilitating the exercise of the right to vote.
“The closing and counting procedures were very good (52%) but there were some challenges on filling forms by polling staff and minor procedural imperfections for not applying indelible ink on fingers. Importantly, the EU observer also noted that the polling staff advised voters on verifying their record on the FRR posted on the wall. This facilitates voters to go to the correct polling places-an improvement on the first round of elections,” Arena added.