For the first time in the country’s electoral history, aspirants in this year’s presidential and parliamentary elections will not physically pick nomination forms from the offices of the Electoral Commission (EC).
This is because the commission has decided to open the filing of nominations using its online portal.
The Chairperson of the EC, Mrs Jean Mensa, who announced this at the “Let the Citizens Know” series held in Accra yesterday, said the move was part of the safety protocols for curbing the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“The nomination forms will be made available on our website and so candidates no longer have to come to pick up their forms at our offices before filing; they simply have to visit our websites and download them,” she said.
Additionally, she said, the guidelines for nominations would be available on the EC’s website for political parties and candidates to access.
She did not state when nominations would open, except say that “we will communicate the official date for the filing of nominations shortly”.
Per Ghana’s electoral laws, aspirants seeking to contest parliamentary and presidential elections are required to file their nominations with the EC.
Over the years, the practice has been that aspirants or their representatives visit the offices of the EC at the district, regional or national levels to pick the nomination forms, which are completed and filed at a later date.
The atmosphere on such occasions is usually charged, as they are characterised by drumming, singing, dancing and sloganeering.
The latest move by the EC is a departure from the old order and implies that the euphoria and colour that come with the picking and filing of nomination forms will be absent.
However, Mrs Mensa said the online system was the best foot the EC was putting forward to ensure efficiency and safety in this year’s electoral process, especially in the wake of the COVID-19.
She said apart from that, the initiative would break down the bureaucratic nature of the filing of nominations and make it less cumbersome.
“The EC further believes that this initiative will simplify the arduous filing process,” she said.
She urged political parties, their candidates and other stakeholders to cooperate with the EC to make the electoral process efficient.
Touching on the ongoing registration exercise, Mrs Mensa said the EC had deepened collaboration with the security agencies to enforce law and order at the various registration centres.
She urged the election security task force to arrest and prosecute unscrupulous persons who were abusing the guarantor system by guaranteeing for persons they did not know for a fee.
Responding to concerns that some registration officers of the EC were engaged in acts that compromised the integrity of the exercise, she said the commission had taken action against such officers.
“We have had to withdraw some of our staff for simple things such as not wearing nose masks, not applying hand sanitisers or not using other safety materials that have been made available to them,” Mrs Mensa said.
She stressed that the EC would not shield any of its officers who violated the rules and regulations governing the registration exercise.