Millions of Ghanaians all over the country will head to the polls this morning, December 7, 2016 to take part in the presidential and parliamentary elections. A total number of 15, 712, 499 registered voters will be expected to cast their ballots when polls open at 7am across the country.
The Electoral Commission (EC) has already announced that voting will take place in 28, 992 polling stations across the 275 constituencies and over 15 million voters are expected to cast their ballot. Today’s elections will be the seventh in the country’s fourth republic.
Seven candidates including the incumbent John Dramani Mahama of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the presidential candidate of the largest opposition party, New Patriotic Party, (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, will contest the presidential polls. Also contesting in the presidential elections are the flagbearers of the People’s National Convention (PNC), Dr. Edward Mahama, the National Democratic Party (NDP), Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings and the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom.
Jacob Osei Yeboah, who also contested the polls in 2012 is the only independent candidate in the race. 2012 Election Petition The 2012 presidential elections gained international media attention after the NPP contested the validity of the results of the polls at the Supreme Court.
The party accused the Electoral Commission of rigging the elections for President John Mahama of the National Democratic Congress. Even though Mr. Mahama had been sworn in as the president, the hearing of the case which lasted for about eight months proceeded.
The apex Court eventually dismissed their case, with the NPP accepting the judgement of the court. Special voting Wednesday’s election started with 101,014 voters cast their ballots during Thursday and Sunday’s early voting.
The Electoral Commission (EC) announced an extra day for Special voting to prevent the special voters including security personnel, media and election officials from being disenfranchised.
The decision was taken after the first day of the exercise was fraught with challenges as hundreds of registered voters who had turned up to vote were turned away as their names were not on the register. However, voters faced similar challenges on the second day. The Electoral Commission which had initially decided to allow voters to cast their ballots in the constituencies of their choice announced on Wednesday that persons must vote in the constituencies they registered in.
This created some controversy as several persons who had their names in the registers of constituencies they lived in and had gone to the centres to vote were sent back. Checks revealed that voters had to go back to the constituencies in which they had originally registered in order to cast their ballots. The situation inconvenienced several people who had not been aware of the change and had turned up at the wrong polling stations and left them stranded.
Parliamentary Polls Ghanaians will also elect their Members of Parliament (MPs) on December 7. 1,158 parliamentary candidates are contesting the 275 parliamentary seats according to the EC; only 136 aspirants, however, are women. The parliamentary results will be declared at the constituency collation centres by the returning officers in each of the constituencies.
Parties end with massive rallies The two leading parties, NDC and NDC, marked the end of the campaign period with huge rallies in the capital Accra. The NPP held their final national rally on Sunday at the Trade Fair Centre with speeches from top officials of the party including the presidential candidate, Nana Addo, running mate, Mahamudu Bawumia, former President J.A Kufuor and Acting national chairman Freddie Blay.
Thousands of the party’s supported packed the streets for the rally, one of the NPP’s largest in years. Thousands of supporters of the NDC also thronged the Accra Sports Stadium on Monday for the party’s final Greater Accra Regional rally.
Supporters and sympathisers of the governing party trooped into the stadium as the party capped off its campaign season in style. Party officials took turns on the stage to address the crowd, including the General Secretary Asiedu Nketia and National Chairman Kofi Portuphy.
The Vice President also spoke at the rally, attacking the NPP’s change agenda and the party’s running mate in the elections Dr Mahamudu Bawumia over the “170 questions. President Mahama was the final speaker, promising to ensure that the country goes through the elections peacefully.
He also called on Ghanaians to retain the NDC in power to continue the developmental projects which the party had started.