The Electoral Commission for the 2021 Graduate Students’ Association of Ghana, Legon (GRASAG-LEGON) elections has indicated that the decision to organize a face-to-face event for candidates at a particular venue is not mandated by the constitution but rather by convention.
His comment comes at the backdrop of the resolution of three presidential candidates to jointly boycott a face-to-face event over the Electoral Commission’s decision to change the venue.
They include Benjamin Senyo Ackah, offering a Master of Philosophy in Agribusiness, Patrick Asiedu Amoako, pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Administration, and Sancho Ackoussah, Master’s of Philosophy in Management Information Studies.
In an interview with Univers News, Chairman of the 2021 GRASAG- Legon EC, Harrison Opoku stated that changing the venue for the event should not be problematic to candidates so far as its purpose is maintained.
“Over the years, it [face-to-face] has been done at Radio Univers. But it is not a constitutional mandate of the Electoral Commission to hold the face-to-face event at Radio Univers. This very means that they [candidates] are complaining about regarding the Zoom communication and where they are going to have the face-to-face is exactly the same means they used for their vetting for students to join, and besides the vetting which was even constitutional, the aspirants didn’t complain about it but they agreed to do the vetting on Zoom. So the constitutional aspect of the electoral process for which the aspirants even participated, they never had any reservation. We [EC] changing the venue from Radio Univers to the same venue where we had the vetting shouldn’t be problematic,” Harrison Opoku said.
He called on all aggrieved parties that are not satisfied with the change of venue for the face-to-face event to seek legal redress.
“If there is any legal breach I will just let the aspirants know or at this school, they can seek legal redress because these are conventions, and conventions are made to change based on circumstances. So in my view, I don’t think it’s a problem for me to change the venue depending on the circumstance we have at hand,” Opoku added.
Further speaking, the Chairman of the EC clarified some issues pertaining to the printing of ballot papers.
He disclosed that the Commission “will print 1,500 ballot papers for every single portfolio” even though the total number of electorates stands above 7,000 graduate students on the Legon campus.
According to him, the EC arrived at this decision based on an analysis of statistics of the total number of votes cast for candidates in the previous elections.
He maintained that the aforementioned decision was approved by the Interim Senate Committee during proceedings of the sixth virtual senate meeting of the 2020/2021 academic year held on Sunday, August 29, 2021.
“Based on statistics of previous elections, GRASAG-LEGON does not have a total cast more than 1,500 before. And what I am talking about happened in the era of face-to-face lectures. This time around, more of the classes are being done online. The school of public health has the highest number [of voters], but they are doing fully online classes, so students are not even on campus. We equally projected that we are expecting 1,500 students to cast their votes but even with that because of COVID-19, it will not reach that number,” He said.
EC Chair Harrison Opoku explained that “even if in this year’s elections, we have people exceeding that amount, we have between 500 to 1,000 additional ballot papers to cater for any surprise in terms of voter turnout. It is a contingency plan”.