17 Aug 2016

How to Make Your Vote Count In 2016

Ghana goes to the polls this year. Many voters out there still don't know how to cast valid ballots. It is a fact that the number of rejected ballots in all elections [since 1992] often outweigh the combined votes of the smaller political parties. It is, therefore, up to the authorities and all concerned to give more and better education to voters and potential voters so as to enable them to choose better.
Image How to vote
How to vote


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The fundamental problems accounting for this huge number ranges from multiple thumb printing to poor folding of papers after thumbprinting. Some votes are not visible enough and disputes often arise at the polling stations because ballot paper appears virtually blank. These are all counted as wasted ballots and defeat the purpose of which such people even visited the polling station in the first place.

Having been a party polling station agent before, and having seen all these problems, I think more people still need to be educated on the voting process and how to cast a valid ballot, especially the first timers.

To avoid wasting your precious votes because they do not qualify to be counted valid, it will be good to observe the following:


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  • Vote Clearly: Make sure your thumb has enough ink on it to make your thumbprint visible on the ballot paper. Votes that are not clearly visible will be rejected because of disputes from party agents at the polling station. So make sure your vote is clearly visible on the paper.
  • Choose One Candidate Only: Thumbprint for only one candidate or party symbol on either ballot papers, parliamentary and presidential. Very often, most rejected ballots are because of some people putting their thumbprints on more than one candidate. Such votes will not be counted for your preferred candidate. To make your vote count, make sure your thumbprint goes on only one candidate or their party symbol.  Also, make sure the ink on your thumb does not mistakenly touch any other part of the paper after choosing your preferred candidate. It can make your ballot invalid.
  • Fold Papers Carefully: Fold the ballot papers well and carefully, making sure the ink doesn't go onto either of the other candidates you did not choose. After thumbprinting, it is advisable to clean your hand well before you fold the ballot paper. Then, fold the ballot paper vertically so each candidate’s head lays on his or her party symbol. This way, even if the ink mistakenly touches the other side of the paper, it will remain valid. Do not fold it horizontally. If you do this, you will be voting for more than one candidate and your vote will be an invalid one. If the paper is too long, you can fold it horizontally afterward but fold it vertically first.
  • Cast Your Ballot: Put your vote in the ballot box. Some people forget and leave their ballot papers in the voting booth. Others even send their ballot papers home. If you forget your ballot paper at the voting booth, the next person who does not agree with your choice may send it home or tear it. So make sure you place your vote in the ballot box through its vent.

Note:

1. Inspect your ballot paper and make sure it is stamped with only the official EC stamp. An unstamped or improperly stamped ballot paper will be rejected. Also, make sure there are no other ink marks on any part of the paper apart from the stamp of the EC.



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2. Make sure your little finger, which has been dipped in indelible ink, does not come into contact with the ballot paper. Also, make sure your thumb which was used to thumbprint on the ballot paper does not mistakenly touch any part of the paper again after making your choice.

3. Make sure you report any malfeasance observed either at the polling station during the voting process or afterward to the police and the returning officer if he or she is not the subject of suspicion.

What do you also make of the issue of rejected ballots in our electoral system?

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