EC Officers To Be Jailed In November Elections If…

Presiding officers in the upcoming elections in November risk being jailed or fined if they commit grievous errors during voting.

Under Regulation 44 (2) of the new Constitutional Instrument,  if the conduct of a presiding officer  is deemed to be inconsistent with the law, the officer is liable for prosecution for 2 years or fined 500 penalty units.

This is contained in a new Constitutional Instrument (CI) currently before Parliament awaiting a mandatory 21-day maturity period.

The instrument, if passed, will regulate the conduct of the 2016 elections and replace the CI 75 which was used for the 2012 elections.

Under the CI75 law there was no punishment for presiding officers who commit errors or electoral offences, a situation critics believe was responsible for the many transposition errors committed in the 2012 elections. It was one of the reasons cited for the election petition.

Some stakeholders have welcomed the new regulation.

Former Director of Operations at the Electoral Commission Albert Arhin said the new regulation will bring “sanity” into the voting process.

He told Joy News the new regulation will also deter presiding officers from committing either negligent or willful errors as happened in the 2012 elections.

Mr Arhin said with the new regulation in place the EC itself will be careful in the people it selects to be presiding officers during elections.

Member of Parliament for Ablekuma West Ursula Owusu was also elated with the new regulation.

“I am happy that regulation 44 (2) has been introduced. It provides for sanctions.

“For me that is very good so that we do not have the 2012 scenarios in which presiding officers were supposed to sign election documents but refused to sign them because there was nothing we could do to them,” she said.