Ghana returned to constitutional rule in 1992. Periodic free and fair elections are one of the tenets of a democracy. But how much does it cost to stage this exercise? We have been looking at the numbers.
The people of Ghana will have to decide on a president and new set of parliamentarians on December 7, 2016. The campaign by the various political parties have been creative, acrimonious and divisive. The Electoral Commission has also had its share of scrutiny, legal battles and verbal attacks.
So while the wrangling goes on, let us turn our attention to the election itself. How much is the election going to cost the taxpayer?
The Electoral Commission initially presented a 1.2 billion cedis budget but that was slashed by as much as 400 million cedis to 826 million cedis by Parliament. Donor money from organisations such as the European Union also supplement the EC’s budget.
It is important to look at how much the cost of the elections has risen over the years. In 2004, the elections cost 23.5 million cedis while the 2008 elections cost 138 million cedis.
But in 2012, it cost us 515 million cedis; representing a 377 million cedi rise from the 2008 elections which included a run-off.
The rise for the cost of Ghana’s election from the year 2004 to 2008 was an estimated 487% considering the figures. Ghana needed 487% more money in 2008 than they used for the 2004 election.
The rise in cost from the 2004 to 2008 election however decreased for the 2012 election which could not catch up with the 487% increase. In 2012, the increase from 138 million cedis to 515 million cedis represented an estimated 273% more money being used for the election.
Looking at figures available, the 2016 elections will cost the country 35 times what it cost us in 2004.
This means the EC is approximating the 2016 election will cost an estimated 60% more than the 2012 election cost the nation.
Why is it costing so much?
Well, the voting population has been increasing. In 2008, it was 11 million Ghanaians while in 2012, it was 14 million. Those figures have risen to 15.7 million eligible voters for the 2016 election.
There should be more ballot papers and boxes plus ink and other essential electoral materials to cater for the increase.
Again, the number of polling stations has risen since the 2008 elections. In 2008, there was 23,000 polling stations, then in 2012 it rose to 26,000. There are 3,000 more stations for the elections in December.
The voting process has also been altered significantly with the introduction of biometric data information and the use of the biometric verification devices.
The EC is also set to increase remuneration for its staff and those who have been specially recruited just for this election. For this election, it is employing highly educated officers to safeguard the electoral process and the results.
Figures for the 2004 elections: Ghana News Agency
Figures for the 2008 and 2012 elections: Electoral Commission to Parliament
Polling station numbers: Electoral Commission
2004 figures were converted to new cedi equivalent
2008 and 2012 figures were converted from US dollars using the official rate at the end of that year
All figures have been approximated