Low voter turnout once again characterised yesterday’s district level elections (DLE), an exercise to elect assembly and unit committee members for metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) across the country.
Unlike general elections that are characterised by long queues and breath-taking moments, the polling centres were without the vibrancy of national politics.
Instead, the general trickling in of voters, as witnessed by the Daily Graphic during visits to some polling centres in designated electoral areas in the Greater Accra Region, left the temporary staff recruited by the Electoral Commission (EC) to conduct the elections virtually on holiday, with the centres looking forsaken, report Emmanuel Bonney & Timothy Ngnenbe.
The process was slow and uneventful in other places.
As of 1:30 p.m, the Daily Graphic observed that none of the polling centres visited had recorded more than a quarter of the eligible voters on the poll book.
At the Adabraka Official Town and Kinkawei Electoral areas, for instance, the paper observed that as of 11:50 a.m., none of the polling centres had recorded more than 40 voters.
At the Adabraka Official Town Electoral Area, the paper observed that 29 people had voted out of 247 persons on the voters register of the St Joseph Catholic One polling station, while 32 had voted out of 245 at the St Joseph Catholic Two polling station.
Similarly, 48 people had voted out of 437 voters at the Nayak Polling B centre.
While 58 had voted out of 439 at Nayak Polling Station at the Kinkawei Electoral area, the paper observed that 102 people had voted out of 475 at the Amantra Daycare Centre.
The story was not different at the St Barnabas Anglican Primary 1A and B polling centres as 68 and 23 people, respectively, had voted out of registered voters of 409 and 156 on the respective voters registers.
Some electoral areas within the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), including Ngleshie, Mudor, Kinka, Amamomo, Korle Wokon, and Korle Dudor, were also experiencing slow and low turnout when the paper visited.
The atmosphere at all the polling centres was generally calm and the verification machines were functioning properly.
At each of the polling centres, at least a security officer was on hand to ensure security and orderliness.
There was also low voter turnout in the areas within the Ngleshie Amanfro Electoral Area in the Ga South Municipality.
As of 11:30 a.m, about 163 persons out of a total of about 3,000 in six polling centres had cast their ballots in the area.
At the Barbara Johnson International School Centre, 40 persons had voted as of 10:18 a.m.
The Presiding Officer, Benjamin Afoakwa, told the Daily Graphic that the EC officers had not encountered any problem.
He said the only issue that came up was the need for people to be directed to other polling centres because their names were not found in some centre codes.
“We use the centre code to determine the centre you are to vote at,” he said.
A third-time voter, Ernest Ansah, said it was a civic responsibility to vote for local level officers and a first-time voter, Erica Quaye, also affirmed the election was an important exercise meant for national development.
At the Ngleshie Amanfro M/A Primary 1, the Presiding Officer, Edem Kwasi Afealete, said there was no problem at the centre, and that people were comporting themselves.
An agent of one of the candidates, Prince Botchwey, confirmed the officer’s assertion, stressing that “we don’t have any problem”.
At the Ngleshie Amanfro M/A Primary 3 centre, 22 out of the total of 375 had voted as of 11:06 a.m.
The Presiding Officer, Ebenezer Bosompim, said voting started at 7 a.m.
Ngleshie Amanfro M/A Primary 2 had 36 out the 457 registered voters casting their ballots as of 11:22 a.m.
Asked about any challenge, the Presiding Officer, Vivian Effe Appiah, said “registered voters are just not coming”.
The 31st December Daycare Centre at Ngleshie Amanfro 1 had 40 out of 622 people voting as of about 11:20 a.m.
The process, the Presiding Officer, Ebenezer Ohene-Djan, said, “has been smooth”.
With regard to the 31st December Day Care Centre, Ngleshie Amanfro, 229 out of 743 persons had voted.
“The people are just not coming,” the Presiding Officer, Nii Acquaye Sampson, said.
In some areas in the Ashanti and Eastern regions, however, some form of drama unfolded as the EC postponed the polls to tomorrow due to “technical challenges”.
The decision, said to be due to unforeseen issues, was contained in an EC statement released after the polls had begun in other areas.
The statement said the elections would now be held on Thursday, December 21, 2023, in those areas.
The Director of Electoral Services at the EC, Dr Serebour Quaicoe, explained that it was due to printing challenges by contractors.
He said many of the ballot papers had been dispatched to the voting centres but due to lateness, the elections in those areas would now be held on Thursday, December 21.
The EC expressed its apologies for any inconvenience caused by the last-minute change.
It further emphasised its commitment to conduct the elections on the new date, urging the public to participate actively in selecting their local representatives.
From Ho in the Volta Region, Alberto Mario Noretti reports that turnout at the various polling stations in the Volta regional capital during the district assembly and unit committee elections was very low.
Officials of the EC were ready with voting materials by 7:00 a.m., but not many voters had turned up at the time.
At the Ho Municipal Assembly Polling Station, for instance, only 14 of the 235 registered voters had cast their vote as of 9:00 a.m.
The EC Presiding Officer, Edinam Alai, said there was no untoward incident.
At the Pentecost Church Polling Station 1, only 39 of the registered 673 had cast their vote as of 9:04 a.m.
A woman, Shine Quist, who turned up at the Volta Barracks Polling Station 2 with her voter identity card, left disappointed as her name could not be found in the register.
However, the presiding officer, who gave his name as Michael, refused to talk to the media or comment on the issue.
Meanwhile, as of 9:26 a.m no voter had turned up at the Volta Barracks Polling Station 2, which had 102 registered voters.
Only 37 people out of the registered 397 voters at the Ho-Dome Jubilee Church polling centre had voted as of 9:07 a.m.
Some eligible voters who spoke to the Daily Graphic said they were avoiding morning queues at the polling stations while others explained that they were traders who had to sell their stuff in the morning before going to the polling stations.
Samuel Kyei-Boateng reports from Akyem Oda that frustrated voters in six constituencies in the Akyemansa block of the Eastern Region who went to the various polling stations to cast their vote yesterday without success were livid over the disappointment.
The affected constituencies are Birim Central, Birim North, Akyem Swedru, Akyem Achiase, Ofoase-Ayirebi and Asene-Akroso-Manso.
When the Daily Graphic visited some of the polling stations in the constituencies, the disappointed voters said they turned up very early in order that they could vote and leave early to carry out their economic ventures.
In all the polling stations visited, no electoral official was around to explain why the voting materials had not arrived.
At the Oda Methodist JHS voting centre, the Presiding Member of the Birim Central Municipal Assembly, Clement Attafuah, who is also the incumbent assembly member for the Towobotom Electoral Area, explained that there was a glitch, and urged the voters to exercise restraint.
A few minutes after 10 a.m, the local radio stations in Oda announced that the Eastern Regional Secretariat of the EC had announced that due to some challenges, the elections in some electoral areas in the Eastern and Ashanti regions had been rescheduled to Thursday, December 21, 2023.
The disappointed voters left for their homes downhearted.