Election observation not fault-finding – Afari-Gyan
Former Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Ghana, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan has entreated West Africa Election Observers Network (WAEON) to focus on fact-checking all election processes instead of trying to find fault during the process.
He said the group must critically observe the voter registration period since it is the fundamental and building block of an election.
Speaking at the WAEON conference in Accra, Mr Gyan noted that, the primary role of Observer Groups is to collaborate with Election Management Bodies (EMBs) to achieve credible, transparent and peaceful democratic elections.
He said, “as far as possible observe the voter registration period being the building block of an election. Finally, I hope you will keep in mind that election observation is not fault-finding but a fact-finding activity”.
In recent years, many observer groups have relied on technologies adopted by the EMBS to report observation findings including verifying election results. Though technology is used to assist election officials in their work, the EMB has a responsibility to put measures in place for a smooth running of the elections, Dr Afari-Gyan stated.
He, however, urged EMB to train election officials to avoid genuine mistakes, and be able to detect deliberate wrongdoings of personnel so they deliver their service in a transparent, efficient manner.
“EMB must also train all categories of election officials well to be able to deliver services in a transparent and efficient manner. Where officials are I’ll-prepared, biased or corrupt, technology cannot be used to achieve credible elections,” he noted.
He further stated that, “the unwillingness of political parties to exhibit democratic behaviour and play by the laid down rules is a huge and negative factor in elections and this attitude impinges the delivery of genuine election”.
Speaking in the same vein, Acting Chairman of WAEON Executive Council, James Lahai said while technology has enhanced the management of elections, it also posed new threats to its users.
These threats include, breakdown of machines, poor human capacity to operate the machines, mistrust from political parties and other stakeholders in the procurement processes.
Despite the negatives, he lauded African countries who give room for observers group to participate in the election, adding, the gesture, has instilled confidence and deterred electoral fraud.
He said, However, “the increasing deployment of technology in election management has set some limits to what election observer groups can observe and monitor. There is the need to re-examine how technology impacts on the work of election observer groups and to devise strategies for overcoming such issues to enable the groups be effective”.