Saturday, December 8, 2012

Ghana's Elections: From the Outside Looking In

My memories of voting for president in America are quite clear....
driving to the old town hall, a bit musty, with chipping paint,
two little old ladies with their register books and rulers crossing off names,
nervously taking my ballot to my booth and trying to figure out who half the people were that I was supposed to be voting on,
getting all confused about voting straight ticket or not and what it meant
if I marked the wrong box,
being relieved,
but proud that I'd done my civic duty.

Fast forward a number of years to Ghana...
As a foreigner I take a keen interest in our democratic process,
but I'm not allowed any part of it.
In fact, we are warned by the American Embassy not to get involved.
We are not to go to polling stations or political rallies.

Imagine my surprise when they put a polling station in our front yard on Thursday night!
Whether we were supposed to or not,
we were about to get a front row view of the happenings.

And so, I share with you now my {somewhat humorous, somewhat serious} view from the outside looking in....

1. Election day is a national holiday.
2. Nobody goes anywhere except to vote.
3. There is hardly anyone on the roads and no fast food anywhere!
4. Voting takes place outside.
5. People will start lining up before dawn (if not the night before!) so they can be first in the voting   line.
6. Everyone must wait their turn (often in the hot sun!) to vote -- and they will wait for hours if necessary.
7. Ballots are set up so that even the illiterate can vote -- pictures and party initials for
each candidate.
8. People vote with their thumb print!
9. To make sure no one cheats, each voter must present their voter i.d. card, and then have their fingerprints scanned.
10. It is against the law to wear party colors or paraphernalia to the the polls.
11. Every polling station has police officers and independent monitors.
12. After people vote, many will stay to watch.
13. The later in the day, and the hotter it gets, the louder the crowds get.
14. It is not surprising to walk outside and see a truck load of police officers or an armored truck full of riot police.
15. To prevent people from stealing the ballot boxes, citizens will set up road blocks at the main entrance to the area.
16. If someone tries to steal a ballot box, only divine intervention will keep the thief from being beaten almost to death.
17. Polls are open from 7am to 5 pm, but if people are in the line, the voting will continue until
all are done.
18. After the voting is done, then crowds really begin to gather.
19. Polling officials will cut open the ballot boxes and display each ballot one-by-one to the crowd to show that it is a valid vote.
20. If a vote is counted invalid, their will be a lot of shouting.
21. After every ballot is checked for validity, each ballot is counted out loud in front of all the people so they will know their voting results immediately.
22. The man with a simple majority vote -- 50% + 1 vote -- is the winner.
23. Ghanians are peace-loving people, and they made us so proud yesterday!

We are not expecting any official election results until Monday or Tuesday. Please keep praying for the peace of our adopted homeland.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Just think what Americans would do if they had to follow that practice! In some ways, I wish we did have to use fingerprints to validate our vote...Just saying. Thanks for telling us about the process. Simply wild...

    We will continue to pray for peace and for you as you minister there.