CODEO’s PVT Builds Confidence in Election Results

Presidential and parliamentary elections were held in Ghana on December 7, 2016, marking the seventh time Ghanaians went to the polls for a national election since the country returned to multiparty democracy in 1992. A number of factors, including close results from past elections and a new Electoral Commission (EC) chair, contributed to uncertainty ahead of the election. In light of this political anxiety, GNDEM members Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) and its broader partner the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers Ghana (CODEO) monitored the pre-election environment and the conduct of polling on election day.

In July, CDD-Ghana conducted a pre-election survey to gauge public opinion on the credibility of the electoral process, which found that a majority of Ghanaians expressed confidence in the polls. Meanwhile, CODEO deployed 134 long-term observers throughout the country’s ten regions to observe the general political environment and campaign period. Observers found that the two main political parties - the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) - were actively and visibly campaigning, while noting that there were few incidents of electoral violence.

Election Day Observation & Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT)

On election day (December 7), CODEO deployed 7,000 observers to polling stations across the country; 1,500 of those observers were part of the random representative sample of the group’s PVT. Observers used SMS to text in messages throughout the day based on their observations at polling stations, which were analyzed at CODEO’s data center in Accra. CODEO’s observers found that the PVT projected results and voter turnout closely matched the results from the EC. Evidence from the observation showed that voting and counting were conducted in accordance with electoral law and the constitution. Furthermore, party representatives from both NDC and NPP signed official declaration of polls, signaling their confidence in the results.

While election day was largely peaceful, the Electoral Commission (EC)’s website faced technical issues that prevented the live electronic transmission of polling station level results, resulting in a delay of election results and causing some tensions to rise between political parties, their supporters and the public at large. While the EC ultimately released results and announced that Nana Akufo-Addo won the presidency within their self-mandated 72 hour window, CODEO’s PVT helped to confirm the results and calm tensions. In addition, both the NPP and NDC parties conducted parallel tabulations of results based on declaration of polls collected by party agents from polling stations, also helping to confirm the official results.

CODEO’s Communication Efforts

Throughout election day, CODEO posted infographics on their Facebook page highlighting findings from the PVT effort. While PVT results would not be released until December 9 after the EC’s official declaration, CODEO was able to communicate their findings on the quality of the electoral process via social media much earlier. On December 8th, CODEO released a preliminary report which discussed their observation in-depth. They also released their results of the PVT following the EC’s announcement of results.

Social media also proved an effective way for CODEO to illustrate the PVT methodology and effort to the public. They released a video that explained the PVT and how CODEO’s observers would undertake the PVT on election day in the Ghanaian context. In addition, CODEO highlighted the work of their observers and volunteers allowing their followers to better understand the work behind the PVT and the process of data collection and analysis at the information center.

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