Chaos at Navrongo polling station as ink spots on ballot papers delay polls (VIDEO)
The voting process in the National Democratic Congress elections in the Navrongo Central constituency in the Upper East Region hit a snag after concerns about ink dents in ballots papers were raised.
The process which already suffered a delay in the dispatch of ballot papers in the morning was stopped barely an hour into it.
There was pandemonium in the NH1 Hall at the C.K Tedam University of Technology and Applied Sciences where delegates gathered to elect a new constituency leadership.
A section of aspirants and their supporters kicked against the use of the ballot papers, saying it could affect a free and fair election.
The Navrongo central constituency has the highest number of aspirants of 79 vying for 17 positions with 1,167 delegates overflowing the polling centre to cast their vote.
By 7am, hundreds of the delegates had gathered to participate in the exercise but the delay in the supply of the voting material slowed the process.
After hours of uneasy wait, a section of aspirants and their supporters began to raise concerns over the delay, yelling about the possibility of it impacting a free and fair election process.
They said some of the aspirants, who are able to afford, were taking advantage of the delay to engage in vote buying which could impact the quality of leaders elected.
Fausta Avio, an aspiring constituency organizer, said the delay could affect the electoral process.
“It is fifteen pass twelve and there are no ballots, nobody is giving us a reason why the ballots are not in. It has given way for people to buy the elections. We need a free and fair elections, but this cannot bring free and fair elections,” he said.
He said the constituency elections directorate failed to communicate the challenge to aspirants, saying any compromise the delay has on the election would impact the party’s fortunes in the 2024 general elections.
Alhassan Abubakarsu Waidu, a deputy communications officer aspirant, shared similar concerns. For him, the inability on the part of the party to deal with smaller challenges at the constituency level could affect its preparations towards the general elections in 2024.
The delay in the voting process flared up tensions at the polling centre.
Supporters of aspirants who felt threatened by what they said were ‘vote buying’ attempts, mounted pressure on the elections committee members to produce the ballot papers or risk a disruption of the voting process.
The Police were called in to restore calm.
Martin Aberba, the acting constituency director of elections, explained to the aspirants and delegates that the delay was due to technical hitches which the party structure at the regional level was working to resolve.
He, however, shot down concerns that the delay could create grounds for vote buying to thrive thereby affecting the calibre of leaders elected.
“Their concerns are genuine because we expected that by now, the ballots would’ve been in but due to some technical hitches, we couldn’t get them in place as planned.”
“We understand their frustration, but we are pleading with them to exercise some bit of patience.”
“I don’t agree with that position that there’s voting buying at the polling centre. If there was vote buying, that would have been destroyed ago and not here,” he dismissed the allegations.