Saturday, December 8, 2012

Ghana election results: is a "one touch" victory possible?

With only 55 of 275 constituencies called on Ghana's most reliable news source (myjoyonline) the results remain far too close for any decisive prediction. From these 55 the NDC candidate incumbent President John Mahama is winning, however given how votes are regionally distributed in Ghana little can be confirmed without more constituencies' results. Throughout the campaign everyone knew it would be close, and indeed it looks like if any candidate takes victory it will be with a roughly 1 or 2 percent margin of victory or less. Two big questions are taking over Ghana's newswaves today. Firstly, will either candidate get over 50 percent of the votes and win the presidency "one touch"? Secondly, is Ghana heading for a divided government with opposing parties taking the presidency and winning a majority in the parliament? This would be unprecedented in Ghana's democratic history.

In order to win the first round ("one touch") the presidential candidate must get over 50 percent of all votes. In 2008 no candidate achieved this which led to a second round. Ghana also saw a second round in 2000 when President Kufour was also unable to get over 50 percent in the first round. If no candidate wins today the second round will be on 28th December.

The NPP campaign manager has confidently informed the public that NPP has secured a one touch victory. They claim that a massive turnout in the Ashanti region (over 80 percent), their stronghold, as well as a reduced turnout in the Volta region, the NDC's stronghold, will help them secure victory. The party claims only 1 percent of stations are continuing voting today and conclude that the process has be largely successful. Dr Afari-Gyan chairman of the Ghana Electoral Commission has also claimed the election to be Ghana's most successful On record. Indeed, the introduction of a new biometric system across the country with minimal problems seems like a great achievement for the EC.

Keep up to date on results here:

Will try to update as we hear more.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Ballots, boxes and biometric verification: election logistics in Ghana

Today I travelled with a team of CODEO/UCLA enumerators to interview political party agents at polling stations in rural parts of the Ashanti and Brong-Ahafo regions. Most of these stations had between 100-350 registered voters and things were pretty quiet. All locations had a police officer overseeing the proceedings as well as EC officials in their blue jackets. Despite the remoteness of the polling stations, in villages without tarred roads or electricity, it was amazing to see that all the election materials had been successfully deposited. This included electronic voter verification machines at each station. Earlier this year Ghana composed a biometric vote register, and with fingerprints already captured, today all voters had to verify their ID using the machine. As the adverts in Ghana have been saying: no verification, no vote.

Problems with the verification machines in some parts of the country has led to a continuation of the polls tomorrow. However, nowhere we visited was there a problem.

Ghana is famed across Africa for its well conducted election and today I saw much evidence of this The ballot boxes remain transparent, the voting slips printed in colored ink with large boxes for easy thumb printing and photos of candidates (way simpler and user friendly than slips in UK and US), and all ballot counting is done in public at the close of the polls. Despite some problems with the verification machine it appears Ghana's election logistics remain quite remarkable, and with 26,000 stations to cover this is no insignificant achievement. Tonight all eyes are on the swing regions to see if NDC will retain Greater Accra, Western and Central or whether they will swing back to the NPP. Tonight, it is far too close to call and it will most likely be Sunday until final results are out.

Below: photo of voter using verification machine, polling station in Brong-Ahafo, rejected ballot with two candidates marked (sadly saw quite a few of these).

Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO)

The Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) has dispatched 4,000 non-partisan and independent observers across the country to independently verify the veracity of the election results. Before 8.00AM when polls opened, 87% of observers were at their stations.

Each observer will SMS information to the data centre in Accra throughout the day.

Within this 4,000, there are a random selection of roughly 1,500 observers whose results direct from polling stations will be used to project the results as part of a nationwide Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT). This is the second time Ghana is conducting a PVT. 

For more, check out: and

Photo: George in CODEO uniform heading to assist with transport in Bia East, Western region.

Ghana goes to the polls

Polling stations opened up at 8am as Ghanaians head to the polls. We will be bringing live updates from the Ashanti and Western regions where George and I will be today. We are heading to the most remote parts of these regions to assist a team of domestic UCLA /CODEO election observers. Most people are predicting a second round, neither candidate has a clear margin over the other. The second round should it happen which will be held on 28th December. Stay tuned for photos from today's events...