The date for this year’s presidential and parliamentary elections remains December 7, the Electoral Commission (EC) has confirmed.
The confirmation quells any speculation that the elections will be held on November 7.
But November 7 could be the date for subsequent general elections, as the EC is yet to set in motion the process to have the current date changed.
The Chairperson of the EC, Mrs Jean Mensa, in an interview with the Daily Graphic to either confirm or deny the November 7 date for the elections, said while the EC remained committed to changing the voting date, it would have to shelve that plan for this year because the change of date would have to go through a process before the date could be changed.
For this year, she said, the time was too short for the EC to do so.
“Although the EC is in favour of the change in date, we don’t intend to do so this year,” Mrs Mensa stated.
In the run-up to the 2016 elections, there were plans to change the voting day from December 7 to November 7 to allow for smooth transitions from one government to another.
The EC has initiated the process to amend Article 112 (4) of the 1992 Constitution, which will allow it to change the date of elections from December 7 to November 7, to make the elections convenient and also enhance the electoral process.
Providing further insight into the issue, a Deputy Chairperson of the EC in charge of Operations, Mr Samuel Tettey, said to enable the EC to amend the law, it had to write to the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice justifying why it needed to change the date.
Following that, he explained, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice would initiate a bill for the appropriate amendment, with the requisite justification.
He said the bill would also have to go through the requisite parliamentary process, after which two-thirds of Members of Parliament would have to vote in favour of the amendment.
He further explained that once Parliament approved of the amendment, the EC would then go ahead to begin the processes to change its calendar and programmes to be in tune with the new date.
Calls for general elections to come off one month earlier than the current date have been fuelled by the closeness of the December 7 date to the transition period from one administration to the next.
Proponents of the November 7 date argue that in the event of a run-off, there will be adequate time for such an election and smooth handover processes.
In the 2000 general election, there was a second run-off on December 28, 2000, after the December 7 elections produced no first-round winner.
In the first round, while the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP’s) Mr John Agyekum Kufuor had 3,131,739 votes, representing 48.17 per cent of total votes cast, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) flag bearer, Prof. John Evans Atta Mills, had 2,895,575 votes, representing 44.54 per cent.
However, in the second round of voting on December 28, 2000, Mr Kufuor had 3,631,263, representing 56.9 per cent, to win the election, as against 2,750,124 votes, representing 43.10 per cent, obtained by Prof. Mills.
It took barely a week for the transition process from one government to another.
In 2008, the general election was held on December 7, 2008, but because no candidate received more than 50 per cent of the votes, a run-off election was held on December 28 between the two leading candidates — Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and Prof. Mills.
While Nana Akufo-Addo had 4,204,073 votes, representing 49.32 per cent, Prof. Mills polled 4,070,889 votes, representing 47.76 per cent.
However, in the run-off on December 28, 2008, Prof. Mills had 4,527,909 votes, representing 50.47 per cent, to beat Nana Akufo-Addo, who had 4,443,654 votes, representing 49.53 per cent.
Prof. Mills was then certified on January 3, 2009 as the winner of the run-off election and was sworn into office on January 7, barely three days after the declaration of the results of the run-off.
Per the EC’s interim calendar of activities, it will begin the compilation of a new voters register for the 2020 elections from April 18 to May 30, 2020.
According to the calendar, it would deploy 8,000 registration devices to cover the 32,000 polling stations across the country.
Mr Tettey said after the 43-day registration period, the EC would provide a five-day mopping up period to take care of any exigencies.
The commission intends to mount a voters register exhibition from August 15 to August 28, this year.
It estimates that the registration process, the exhibition of the register and adjudication on challenges raised will all end by October 26, this year.
A lot of buffer — allowing enough room to accommodate delays and contingencies — had been built into the timelines to ensure that they were not missed, Mr Tettey explained.
Adjudication and correction
The EC will also make room for people challenging the identities of others on the register, a process known as objection adjudication and correction, which will take place between October 1 and 9, this year, while the authentication of the register by revising officers will take place between October 12 and 15, this year.
In 2012, the register was authenticated between September 25 and 30, 2012, with the 2016 exercise taking place from October 6 to 10.
The receipt of nominations from presidential and parliamentary candidates will be done between October 5 and 9, this year.
The exercise was conducted from October 17 to 19 in 2012 and between August 29 and 30 in the last election four years ago.
This will pave the way for the submission of the final voters register to all political parties on November 4, this year, as was the case in 2012 and 2016 when it was done within the first week of November.
The processes will enable the EC to dispatch copies of the register to all constituencies by November 8, this year.
“A lot of thought and estimation have gone into setting the timelines to ensure that we are able to compile and print a new biometric register ahead of the polls on December 7.”