MATHEMATICAL ERRORS: A SIGNAL OF A FLAWED ELECTIONS?

“It is not the voting that’s democracy; it’s the counting”~ Tom Stoppard.”

An election is a moral horror, as bad as a battle except for the blood; a mud bath for every soul concerned in it.” This should inform the Electoral Commission the need to have treated with all seriousness the Elections deserved as it is the only way to give power to the governor who will be mandated to steer the affairs of the nation for a given period. The Electoral Commission of Ghana must bow its head in shame for trivializing the need to have people who are apt to details and proficient in numeracy.

On the eve of the General Elections, it was obvious that education in relation to casting ballots, sorting out ballots and issuing out ballots weren’t properly done. This assertive statement is based on some events that transpired at various polling stations on the D-Day. On the D-Day, some polling stations officers used the yellow ink which was to be used for stamping the back of the ballot to authenticate them as the ink for thumb printing. At some polling stations, party agents were asked by officials to sit behind the electoral booths instead of sitting closer to the officers in charge of the elections in order to observe events properly. At others too, electoral officers were seen issuing out more than one ballot to some voters; others had already thumb printed ballots and issued them to the aged while others were seen to be cutting off other candidates from the ballot papers and saying these were mistakes. Finally, other polling stations were seen having certain political parties flags hoisted there and when presiding officers’ attentions were drawn to these events, they said these places are the strongholds of certain parties hence no need to have ensured these flags were removed from the catchment of the polling stations.

Now to the substantive issue that has brought this brouhaha to something that was supposed to be a smooth, free and fair elections despites the misgivings—failure of the Electoral Commission of Ghana to pay attention to details and its lack of proficiency in numeracy. On the 9th of December,2020 around 18:00 GMT, the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Madam Jean Mensah announced the results of the Presidential Elections. At the Conference Center where the Chairperson of the Commission gave the results, these were the results churned out by the Returning Officer of the Presidential Elections: Nana Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) had 6,730,413 representing 51.59%; John Dramani Mahama of the National Democratic Congress with 6,214,889 representing 47.36%; Ghana Union Movement 105,565 representing 0.805%; Convention People’s Party 12,215 representing 0.093%; Ghana Freedom Party 5,575 representing 0.042%, Great Consolidated People’s Party 3,574 representing 0.027%; All People’s Congress 7,140 representing 0.054%; Liberal Party of Ghana 7,690 representing 0.059%; People’s National Convention 10,887 representing 0.083%; National Democratic Party 6,612 representing 0.050% and Independent Candidate 9,703 representing 0.074%. All these figures represent 100.29%.From the Electoral Commission, this totalled 13,432,857 including 313,397 rejected ballots. Unfortunately, the summed total is wrong since the actual figure ought to be 13,432,975. The valid votes cast according to the same Commission’s website is 13,119,460 which is also wrong since the total valid votes cast ought to be 13,119,578.

Nonetheless, on the 10th of December, 2020, the Electoral Commission of Ghana in its press release published another figures where the only change made was in the votes of the NDC’s Candidate’s figures where the said candidate’s votes decreased from 6,214,889 to 6,213,182 showing a reduction of 1707 votes representing 0.0275% of the candidate’s first votes earned. In the said published results of the press release, total votes cast was 13,434,574 instead of 13,434,677 which is a reduction of votes in the first press conference to declare the results; and the total valid votes cast increased from 13,121,111 (instead of 13,121,197) showing an increase of 1,533 per the EC’s own figures. This same thing is reflected in the rejected ballots as it increased from 313,397 to 313,463.However, the first figures churned out on December 9, 2020 were flawed in terms of the said percentages because the churned out figures gave the NPP Candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo 51.59% instead of 50.10% while the NDC’s Candidate, John Dramani Mahama was allotted 47.36% instead of 46.26%. With these two candidates’ percentages and that of the rejected added together, the percentage stood at 101.28% which is above the expected 100%. These errors can’t be pardoned. Interestingly with the updated version of the results as released on December 10, 2020, the total percentage stands at 102.33% as against the first one which stood at 102.62% since the Electoral Commission insists the figures of percentages are right except that of Nana Akufo-Addo was reduced from 51.59% to 51.302%.

From these unpardonable errors, can one in his true sense of objectivism accept the results as the true reflection of the just ended 2020 General Elections in the aspects of the Presidential Elections? If the answer is in the negative, then the Commission need to understand that “all voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers or backgammon, with a slight moral tinge to it, a playing with right and wrong”. Therefore, the Electoral Commission must sit up and redeem its image while ensuring that in any other Elections, the recruitment of Electoral Officers must not be hinged on just being able to write words in figures or sorting but should show higher levels of numeracy proficiency since “a vote is like a rifle, its usefulness depends upon the character of the user” for which “the ignorance of one voter (Electoral Officer) in a democracy impairs the security of all”.

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