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Bright Philip Donkor: Of Election petitions: Dismantling the perception of vote-rigging in the national elections

There is a widely held view that the vote rigging cartel, with the able connivance of electoral officials, more often than not, roll up a fiendish plan to rig elections. Vote rigging which is the act of illegally changing the results of an election by producing a false record of the numbers, is eating deep into the political fibre of the country and if efforts are not made to nip it in the bud, it'll escalate and become insurmountable.

Our society which is struggling to disentangle itself from the shackles of economic, social and moral cankers has also been affected by this political syndrome. Undoubtedly, electoral fraudsters will move heaven and earth to ensure victory for their preferred candidate, especially, in our part of the world (Africa).

From my perspective, vote rigging has a perceptible likeness to a violation of allegiance to a sovereign nation. Thus frankly speaking, such a high crime must not and cannot be overlooked with a stark perfunctory. Is it acceptable for the electorates to go to the polls with a view to voting for their preferred candidate and only for those responsible to man the sanctity of the process to select who should become a winner?

In all honesty, no serious political party will sit aloof and allow its opponent to rig elections. It could be recalled that the Electoral Commission on the 9th December, 2020 declared H. E Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as the winner of the 2020 general election. In reaction, the main opposition party: National Democratic Congress (NDC) in a press conference rejected the outcome, alleged series of irregularities and levelled various allegations of electoral malfeasance against the EC and the ruling party.

In the same vein, when H. E John Dramani Mahama was declared the winner of the 2012 general elections, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) rejected the results and petitioned the Supreme Court to invalidate the results and declare its flagbearer the winner. It's as though every opposition party has an issue of mistrust in the conduct of elections and even on the build up to elections. These could be seen in the numerous press conferences indicating their displeasure in the conduct voter registration exercise and exhibitions.

They sometimes take to the streets to demonstrate all in an attempt to discredit the EC. As a result, their supporters are made to believe that the entire electoral processes are not free, fair and transparent. Why has this idea been ingrained in our politics?

In September 16, 2015, we witnessed a group of demonstrators comprising the Alliance for Accountable Governance, Let My Vote Count Alliance and the NPP clad in red attires to demand the creation of a new voter's register as they alleged bloated figures in the old register. Meanwhile, in August 14, 2020 the NDC's Sammy Gyamfi also alleged brutalities by some military and police personnel and alleged NPP tugs at some registration centres in the country.

Truth is, there's absolutely no election without challenges. However, that doesn't imply that we make conscious efforts to incite our members to practice chaotic behaviors even when we're aware of the tenacity of the game.

It's in the light of this that I would like to humbly bring to the fore that we've come far as a nation to resort to these political gimmicks. Some politicians neglect their constituents only to solicit for votes in the eleventh hour when defeat glares. So they say; ‘my opponent intimidated me’, ‘there were instances of double voting’, ‘they disenfranchised majority of my supporters’ among such commentaries by politicians. I'll be quick to add that the Supreme Court is not a monument for tourism and should be there to settle all electoral related cases. And remember he who alleges must be ready to prove beyond reasonable doubt.

Elections provide the victor and the vanquished with reasons to celebrate and lessons to learn respectively. As such, people who lose in elections must accept defeat and move on. When polls are conducted, definitely, someone must win and others must lose. It is becoming all too common for people who lose elections in Africa, to cry foul on any minor irregularity detected (irregularities, whose correction would not have changed the results in anyway) to resort to protest and mayhem that have the potential of destroying the very country they are fighting to lead.

It is in the true spirit of this that, the general perception of vote-rigging in national elections has to be erased. Such is the way politicians in Africa can learn to accept electoral defeat in order to prevent chaos, loss of lives and properties.

The author, Bright Philip Donkor is the African Journalists for Economic Opportunity Training (AJEOT-2020) Best Article Writer and a student at the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ).

Writer's email - bpdonkor@gmail.com

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