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Carter Center Finds Ghana's Presidential Run-off Elections Credible and Peaceful

CONTACT: Julie Benz-Pottie
In Accra + 223 (0) 24 019 6053

ACCRA...The Carter Center found that Ghana's voters participated in a transparent and relatively peaceful presidential run-off election on Dec. 28, 2008. Preliminary reports of the election, which was contested by John Evans Atta Mills of the National Democratic Congress and former Foreign Minister Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the ruling New Patriotic Party, indicate that the administration of this election was well executed, illustrating the successful organization of the Electoral Commission and the determination of the Ghanaian public to ensure continued democratic consolidation. As vote aggregation continues, it is now essential for Ghana to remain calm, to await the final results, and to follow appropriate legal channels for the adjudication of disputes. The provision of a timely response to election disputes both at the polling station and higher levels may ultimately determine issues of franchise and public confidence in the democratic process; therefore, the Center urges the Electoral Commission to continue their commendable administration of the electoral process throughout the dispute period and transfer of power. The Carter Center will continue to observe the national tabulation until complete and, when appropriate, comment further on the electoral process.

  • The Carter Center deployed 58 observers from 17 countries. Observers deployed to 33 districts in all 10 of Ghana's regions and visited 354 polling stations to observe voting and counting.
  • Most polling places observed were adequately equipped with election materials and opened on time and were incident free.
  • Extensive campaigning, primarily at the grassroots level, was conducted by both parties following the Dec. 10 run-off announcement.
  • The parties also engaged in widespread door-to-door voter education efforts. In combination with the Electoral Commission's retraining of polling officials, these efforts appear to have resulted in a substantial decrease of rejected ballots.
  • Civil society actively engaged in the electoral process. The National Peace Council of Ghana—which includes representatives of the NPP, NDC, and major Ghanaian religious, economic, and political interests—held bipartisan discussions on run-off issues. The Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO), Institute for Democratic Governance, and Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice deployed domestic observers on election day. Additionally, CODEO conducted a parallel vote tabulation.
  • Security forces played a positive role in the election and The Carter Center noted no major instances of intimidation.
  • Transparency was a hallmark of election-day activities. Throughout the country, significant transparency was exhibited in polling stations observed by The Carter Center in both voting and vote counting processes; party agents of both presidential candidates were present and were allowed a high degree of access and public observation.
  • The counting process was generally peaceful and largely free from irregularities that would compromise the integrity of the process. Counting was completed swiftly and accurately.
  • While counting was conducted in a transparent and impartial manner at the vast majority of stations observed, The Carter Center notes that many observed polling stations did not correctly complete their 'Statement of Poll' form resulting in minor discrepancies in the reconciliation of ballot papers.
  • Ghana's special-voting day, held Dec. 23, 2008, was marked by reports of polling officials indiscriminately accepting voters not registered for special voting. These voters names were allegedly not vetted from the election-day voters' register as having already voted, leading to fears of possible derogation from the principle of equal suffrage and a strict disallowance of multiple voting.
  • While Ghana has experienced significant issues with electoral dispute adjudication during past electoral process, the Ghanaian Supreme Court has worked to establish a program to speed the adjudication of disputes and uphold their commitment to provide timely and efficient electoral dispute resolution. The Court recently published a manual explaining how to access the courts and has endorsed alternative dispute resolution practices as a means to further expedite electoral dispute resolution.

To the people of Ghana: The Carter Center commends the enthusiasm and determination of Ghana's people to continue democratic consolidation through active participation in an electoral process marked by its inclusiveness and transparency. The active participation of the Ghanaian people in civil society organizations illustrates a strong commitment to peace and accountable democracy.

To the political contestants of Ghana: The Carter Center notes the statesmanship and dedication of political leaders to a peacefully conducted campaign period during a hotly contested electoral process. It recognizes the commitment of both contestants to a campaign marked by respect for the fundamental political rights of freedom of expression, assembly, and participation in public affairs.

To the Election Commission: The Carter Center offers its congratulations on the Commission's impressive ability to conduct its work impartially and effectively. The Center recognizes the Commission's crucial role in Ghana's electoral process.


The Carter Center election observation mission has been in Ghana since May 2008 following an invitation from the Electoral Commission of Ghana. During the Dec. 7 first-round election, the Center deployed a 57-person observer team to more than 300 polling stations in 30 districts. A preliminary statement released Dec. 9 details the Center's findings on the political environment and election-day activities.

Following the announcement of a run-off election, the Center redeployed eight long-term observers on Dec.14 to assess run-off preparations in five regions throughout the country. On election day, 58 Carter Center observers from 17 countries visited 354 polling stations in 33 districts throughout all regions of the country to observe voting and counting. The delegation was led by Honorable Aminu Bello Masari, the former speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives, and Dr. John Stremlau, vice president for peace programs at The Carter Center. Carter Center observers continue to assess the conclusion of counting and vote tabulation and will remain in Ghana to observe the post-election environment.


The Carter Center conducts election observation in accordance with the Declaration of Principles of International Election Observation and Code of Conduct for International Election Observation adopted at the United Nations in 2005.

Waging Peace. Fighting Disease. Building Hope."

A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in more than 70 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; improving mental health care; and teaching farmers in developing nations to increase crop production. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.

Related Links

Dec. 9, 2008:  Carter Center Delegation Observes Ghana's Peaceful, Historic Elections >>

Dec. 9, 2008:  Ghana Election Observation Mission Preliminary Statement >>

View The Slideshow

Delegates Observe Election Day in Ghana, Dec. 7, 2008 >>

Read the Ghana Run-off Election Observation Mission Preliminary Statement >>

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