Ghana elections: Updates from the ground (part one)

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Voting for presidential and parliamentary elections is currently ongoing in Ghana, as the polls have been extended for a second day. The two front runners in the presidential race are President John Mahama and Nana Akufo-Addo. Mahama is the successor of President John Atta Mills, who passed away in July of this year, and leads the National Democratic Congress. Akufo-Addo represents the New Patriotic Party. Below, we hear live updates from Sarah Brierley and George Ofosu who are currently on the ground in Ghana and watching the elections. Sarah and George are PhD students in Political Science at the University of California, Los Angeles. You can find their full blog on Ghana’s elections here.

Friday 7th December

Ghana Goes to the Polls

Polling stations opened up at 8am as Ghanaians head to the polls. We will be bringing live updates from the Ashanti and Western regions where George and I will be today. We are heading to the most remote parts of these regions to assist a team of domestic UCLA /CODEO election observers. Most people are predicting a second round, neither candidate has a clear margin over the other. The second round should it happen which will be held on 28th December.

Coalition of Domestic Election Observers

The Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) has dispatched 4,000 non-partisan and independent observers across the country to independently verify the veracity of the election results. Before 8.00AM when polls opened, 87% of observers were at their stations.
Each observer will SMS information to the data centre in Accra throughout the day. Within this 4,000, there are a random selection of roughly 1,500 observers whose results direct from polling stations will be used to project the results as part of a nationwide Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT). This is the second time Ghana is conducting a PVT.
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Ballots, Boxes and Biometric Verification: election logistics in Ghana

Today I travelled with a team of CODEO/UCLA enumerators to interview political party agents at polling stations in rural parts of the Ashanti and Brong-Ahafo regions. Most of these stations had between 100-350 registered voters and things were pretty quiet. All locations had a police officer overseeing the proceedings as well as EC officials in their blue jackets. Despite the remoteness of the polling stations, in villages without tarred roads or electricity, it was amazing to see that all the election materials had been successfully deposited. This included electronic voter verification machines at each station. Earlier this year Ghana composed a biometric vote register, and with fingerprints already captured, today all voters had to verify their ID using the machine. As the adverts in Ghana have been saying: no verification, no vote.

Problems with the verification machines in some parts of the country has led to a continuation of the polls tomorrow.

However, nowhere we visited was there a problem.
Ghana is famed across Africa for its well conducted election and today I saw much evidence of this The ballot boxes remain transparent, the voting slips printed in colored ink with large boxes for easy thumb printing and photos of candidates (way simpler and user friendly than slips in UK and US), and all ballot counting is done in public at the close of the polls. Despite some problems with the verification machine it appears Ghana’s election logistics remain quite remarkable, and with 26,000 stations to cover this is no insignificant achievement. Tonight all eyes are on the swing regions to see if NDC will retain Greater Accra, Western and Central or whether they will swing back to the NPP. Tonight, it is far too close to call and it will most likely be Sunday until final results are out.


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