Election Petition And The Future Of Electoral Reforms In Ghana
The 1992 Constitution of Ghana provides for the contestation of election results. Article 64 (1) states that “the validity of the elections of the president may be challenged only by a citizen of Ghana who may petition the purpose of the Supreme Court within twenty-one days after the declaration of the election results in respect of which the petition is presented.
Article 64 (2) also states that “a declaration by the Supreme Court that the election of the President is not valid shall be without prejudice to anything done by the President before the declaration.” Also, article 64 (3) states that “the Rules of Court Committee shall, by constitutional instrument, make rules of court for the practice and procedure for petitions to the Supreme Court challenging the election of a President.
Armed with the requisite constitutional provisions, the results of Ghana’s 2012 and 2020 elections were challenged in the nation’s Supreme Court. Even though the court processes in both cases never altered the election results, they nevertheless exposed flaws in the electoral processes. However, one main noticeable difference between the 2013 Election Petition and that of 2021 is that whiles the flaws in the 2013 electoral processes were exposed and featured in the final judgment of the Supreme Court in a manner that gave marching orders to the Electoral Commission to initiate moves towards electoral reforms, the challenges of the 2020 elections, though exposed at the election petition, were never featured in the final judgment of the Supreme Court. This appears to have rendered the quest for further electoral reforms following the 2021 Election Petition, difficult and made the future of any attempt to fine-tune the electoral processes post 2021, quite bleak.
The 2013 Election Petition at the Supreme Court of Ghana exposed some monumental flaws in the nation’s electoral processes that could not be glossed over in the quest for free and fair elections. In his ruling, Justice William Atuguba, the president of the panel of judges noted that:
“This petition, however, has exposed the need for certain electoral reforms. I mention some of them. The voters’ register must be compiled and made available to the parties as early as possible; a supplementary register may cater for late exigencies; the caliber of presiding officers must be greatly raised up; the pink sheet is too elaborate, a much simpler one to meet the pressures of the public, weariness, and lateness of the day at the close of a poll, etc; the carbon copying system has to be improved upon; the Biometric Device System must be streamlined to avoid breakdowns and the stress on the electorate involved in an adjournment of the poll, and invalidating wholesale votes for insignificant excess numbers is not the best application of the administrative principle of the proportionality test.”
The Post 2012 Electoral Reform in Ghana
Following this, the EC invited proposals for electoral reforms from thirty-eight key stakeholders including political parties, faith-based organizations, professional bodies, and Civil Society Organizations. The IEA, under the aegis of the Ghana Political Parties Programme (GPPP) for instance, held series of workshops to review the electoral processes. This culminated in the submission of twenty-five proposals for electoral reform to the EC on 20th November 2013. Subsequently, in January 2015, the EC inaugurated a ten-member Electoral Reforms Committee to examine the proposals for electoral reform and advise the Commission on the implementation of the proposals. The Committee, comprising of representatives of political parties, the EC, and Civil Society Organizations submitted its report encapsulating forty-one proposals for electoral reform to the Commission in April 2015.
… even though we have seen challenges with our electoral processes after the 2020 elections, the tacit non-admission of same by the Electoral Commission and its refusal to speak to them at the courts, using the law, makes the Commission look like a political ostrich. Prof. Ransford Gyampo
Almost all the reform proposals or close to ninety-nine percent of the proposals were generally accepted by the EC albeit some few modifications while others were slated for further discussion with political parties before their acceptance and possible implementations. Continue Here