The Special Voting exercise reserved for security agents, Electoral Commission (EC) and media practitioners who will be on duty on December 7, took a nose-dive yesterday as the exercise was characterized by confusion with several eligible voters missing out.

It was a baptism of fire for the new EC boss, Charlotte Osei, as the process was a complete mess, leading to the holding of an emergency Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meeting to find a way out of the mess occasioned by missing names of voters on the electoral roll.

There were widespread reported cases of stranded voters at many polling stations nationwide because they could not locate their names in the specially prepared register and had to be turned away in disappointment, with some fuming.

Some senior military and police officers were also affected by the botched exercise.

Tempers Flare Up
Tempers were very high in many polling stations while there were chaotic scenes in Bolgatanga, Upper East Region, when some of the parties united to prevent police recruits from taking part in the exercise.

Some officials of the EC who will be supervising the December 7 exercise could not find their names in the register.

The reports of missing names in the register left many wondering what will happen when the main exercise gets underway on December 7.

EC's Response
Electoral Commission Chairperson, Charlotte Osei, has always insisted the commission is ready for the crucial general election but the hiccups in yesterday's exercise badly exposed the commission, giving it a wake-up call.

The EC issued a terse statement yesterday when the reports about the disjointed process started trickling in, urging calm after it admitted there were some 'challenges' and had promised to resolve them in no time saying, “We're working with the top hierarchy of the security agencies to resolve the problem as soon as possible.”

Later, Eric Dzakpasu, Head of Communications at the EC, said in spite of the concerns, the December 7 contest was going to be 'error-free' saying, “With the largest numbers, we are going to get it right.”

He said the widespread omissions in the register might be due to the fact that “a large number of them have not transferred their votes,” adding, “The rules applying to the special voting are not in any way different from the rules applying to the general election. You cannot vote outside your constituency where you are registered.”

Police Service
It appeared that the Ghana Police Service was the worst-affected institution as far as the voters who could not trace their names in the register are concerned.

In Koforidua, Eastern Regional capital, the regional commander, DCOP Peterkin Yentumi Gyinae, reportedly could not find his name on the list while the names of the District Police Commanders of Amasaman and Ashiaman in the Greater Accra Region were also missing.

Also said to be missing were names of the regional police commanders in the Northern and Upper West Regions.

A good number of police officers were turned away from the various polling stations but Mr. Dzapkasu explained that the EC did its compilation of the Special Voters Register based on the information given to the commission by agencies, including the Police Service.

“If your ID card number is correct and valid, certainly your name must be on the Special Voters' list in the constituency where you are registered,” he explained.

Nima Police Station
At the Nima Police Station – one of the special voting centres – the situation was inclement as over 300 disappointed policemen and women openly grumbled about why they had been denied their voting rights.

They wondered why they as police officers who would be on duty on Election Day were being denied the opportunity to vote when persons they saw in the queue for special voting did not look like those who would be playing critical roles on December 7.

Only some 20 officers were able to vote, a situation which raised the tempers of the police officers.

At a point, a teenager was invited for questioning when the policemen wondered whether he was qualified to vote at all, let alone as a special voter.

The Divisional Police Commander, ACP Vance Gariba and the Nima District Commander Superintendent Nchor, had to physically move in to take control of the chaos which was threatening the premises as persons who did not look like special voters and their party supporters engaged in arguments with sulking cops.

Dome Kwabenya
At the Kwabenya Police Station, over a hundred personnel could not find their names. There were similar reports from the Osu Police Station, Dansoman, Ablekuma West and South, Sowutuom, Kpeshie and almost every centre in Accra.

Ablekuma West
At the Dansoman Divisional Command, the NPP candidate for Ablekuma West, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, said the EC kept changing the special voters' register and that might have accounted for the missing names.

“The EC brought us a new list just last night and that is causing the confusion,” she said.

Ablekuma South
Confusion nearly broke at the Korle-Bu police station voting centre where elections were held for the special voting exercise in the Ablekuma South Constituency.

To their surprise, most of these officers could not find their names in the special voters' register and the development got most of them furious, thereby expressing disappointment in the conduct of the EC.

A number of them who did not want to be named told DAILY GUIDE that they suspected it was a deliberate ploy to disenfranchise some members of the security agencies, but said they were unperturbed in their quest to vote and that they would go and vote on December 7.

Others who said they have been detailed to perform election duties outside Accra on the voting day also expressed grave concern about the fact that they would not be able to vote in even the actual elections since they are scheduled to leave their posts three days before December 7.

There was also a near exchange of blows when two persons [a teenager and a girl] who looked like minors pulled up to partake in the special voting.

Agents of the opposition NPP and the party's parliamentary candidate for Ablekuma South, Jerry Shaib, protested while the NDC agents insisted they be allowed to vote. But after a heated argument, the EC's Returning Officer on duty cleared them to vote.

Awoshie –Anyaa
About 117 police personnel could not cast their votes at Ga Central, also known as the Awoshie –Anyaa Constituency.

At Sowutoum police station, a total of 40 police officers within the district could not cast their ballots and at Anyaa police station, only two persons had their names captured in the register while 38 other names could not appear. At the Odorkor MTTD, over 38 personnel could not cast their votes because their names were not captured.

La Dadekotopon
The La Dadekotopon Constituency was supposed to have six polling stations – three at the Cantonments Police Barracks and three at the Burma Hall. However, they were provided with only two polling stations each, resulting in long waiting hours.

As at the time DAILY GUIDE was leaving the scene there had been one manual verification.

Eventually, the somewhat disenfranchised cops resolved to vote first before official duties on December 7 but as to whether their names would be in the main list is also another issue.

In all, over 127,000 were expected to participate in the special exercise but many could not cast their ballots due to the confusion surrounding the register.

Scores of personnel from the various security agencies in Kumasi have threatened to boycott the December 7 polls.

This follows their inability to cast their ballots during the Special Voting, which was held across the country on Thursday.

They said they would vote at their various polling stations before they would go to their assigned places to provide security on Wednesday.

Scores of them, who spoke on condition of anonymity, stated that they would not visit the places that they would be assigned to provide security.

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