Ignore Jean Mensa’s proposal to close polls at 3pm – Otokunor

Deputy General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Peter Boamah Otokunor has rejected a proposal made by chair of the Electoral Commission (EC) Jean Mensa to close polls at 3PM.

He said the time to close polls in Ghana’s elections since 1992 has not been an issue for the political parties.

Mr Otokunor said there are other pressing reforms that the EC must embarked on, not this one.

The EC chair has proposed for the stipulated time for the closure of polls to be moved forward from 5pm to 3pm in future elections.

According to Mrs. Mensa, the proposal when implemented would ensure adequate time provision for the counting, and collation of ballot papers.

She revealed the initiative was to take effect in the 2020 general elections but was put on hold as a result of COVID-19.

“We propose closing the polls at 3pm rather than 5pm. In 2019, we announced our decision to close the polls at 3pm rather than 5pm, in the 2020 Elections. Nonetheless, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and the stringent, and necessarily time-consuming safety protocols we instituted at our polling stations, we were compelled to put this proposal on hold.

“Over the past months, however, this proposal has re-surfaced from various sections of the public, and indeed, our own experience from the 2020 Elections has revealed that it is a workable proposal, as by 1pm, most polling stations were empty, suggesting that this is a workable proposal. Therefore, this is a reform we intend to put forward.”

Mrs. Mensa said at a two-day retreat for political parties and other stakeholders, an event which was boycotted by the NDC.

Asked for his reaction on this proposal, Mr Otokunor said “Unfortunately, I will not be able to contribute to that because we (NDC) are working on key reforms.

“But on the face of it, it beats my imagination that this is a worry for the electoral commission. There are major challenges with our electoral systems and closing polls early is not something that we should be worrying ourselves about.”

“If you look at the system that we have been running from 1992, early poll closing has not been a challenge. The results coming and the time as they are declared has not been in contention in any of our elections. So I think that this is something that should be ignored.

“There are key issues and we are going to engage the public on some of the major things that require attention,” he told Accra-based Joy FM.

The NDC will later on Thursday address journalists on the recent proposed electoral reforms announced by the Electoral Commission.

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