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AEP Explainer: Electronic Transmission of Results and its Implication on Ghana's Elections
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As part of our issues-based coverage of Ghana’s Elections 2016, Penplusbytes’ African Elections Project (www.africanelections.org/ghana) presents an in-depth Explainer on the Electoral Commission’s (EC) decision to transmit results electronically during the December 7th elections.

What is Electronic Transmission of results?

The Electronic Results Transmission System (ERMS), is a software used for transmitting provisional election results electronically to an observation centre. The public is usually allowed to watch a live stream of the results on the screen.

In Ghana’s electoral context, the ERMS is a real time direct transmission of election results (presidential and parliamentary) from the constituency collation centres through a Wide Area Network (WAN) to the EC’s head office,  for display at the National Collation Centre as well as the Commission’s website.
 

How did the ERTS become an issue?

Peter Mac Manu, the Campaign Manager of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), on Sunday 31st July, 2016 expressed dissatisfaction about the Electoral Commission’s (EC) decision to transmit results electronically during the December 7th elections stating among other reasons that it is not backed by law.

The EC followed with a statement which sought to clarify ERTS and the contractual process stating that “results transmitted through the ERTS would remain provisional and since they do not replace the manual results process captured in the Law, in the view of the EC, the legal committee of (Inter-Party Advisory Committee ) IPAC, and IPAC, there was no need to capture the process in the law”. The EC added that it was part of the reforms recommended by the Electoral Reform Committee.

The governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) waged into the saga accusing the NPP of hypocrisy since, they were involved in the decision to transmit the December 7 polls results electronically. They (NDC) further added that electronic transmission was the “brainchild” of the NPP, specifically, the late Jake Obetsebi Lamptey. However, the NPP described the accusation as “propaganda” and indicated that, even though they welcomed the electronic transmission, their position was misconstrued. According to the NPP, they agreed to electronically transmit results from the collation centers in the constituency to the EC’s Headquarters and not polling stations to collation centres as advertised by the EC in newspapers. Again, they accused the EC of not being transparent about the process, an accusation the EC denies.

 

How will the process be transparent and inclusive?

According to the EC, they are going to be open about the process and that the electronic transmission of results in the December 7 elections will only be done from the constituency collation centres and not from polling stations as agreed upon by the Electoral Reform Committee and the Inter Party Advisory Committee (IPAC). Again, they said ERTS is not a substitute for the manual collation process. The EC gave a demonstration of how the ERTS will work at a stakeholder meeting.

 

How has the ERTS been deployed in other Elections?

Ghana will not be the first country to deploy the electronic transmission of results as countries like Kenya, Ecuador and Mexico have already used it. According Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), Kenya’s electoral management body, “only 17,000 of the 33,000 polling stations managed to transmit results before it was overwhelmed by some technical hitches” in the 2013 polls. In Ghana’s case, however, the provisional results will only be transmitted from the 275 constituency collation centres to the national coalition centre.

 

Why E-transmission of results is important (Will electronic transmission of results improve the electoral system)? (Integrity of electronic transmission)

·         E-transmission of results will provide access to provisional elections data to media and other stakeholders in real time collation process, at least, from constituency collation centres to the national coalition centre and the EC’s website concurrently. This will enhance the integrity and transparency of election results.

·         It will help detect discrepancies in election results after election results have been electronically transmitted. This will make it impossible to change declared results in the transmission process at the constituency collation centres before the manual results get to the national collation centre. Again, it will afford the opportunity to resolve discrepancies on time.


·         E-transmission of results will display and visualize provisional results at the tally centers for easy understanding

[This Explianer Article was made possible with funding from NED.]

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