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ANALYSIS: Ghana’s presidential election results declared with significant errors

Following what some international and local election observers say was a successful holding of Ghana’s 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections, the Electoral Commission declared the official presidential results on Wednesday, December 9, 2020, at its headquarters in Accra. The verdict was declared without results from the Techiman South Constituency which Mensa explained was under contention.

Chairperson of the Commission, Jean Mensa, declared Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the incumbent president, as the winner of the keenly contested polls.

His closest contender and former president, John Mahama, who contested on the ticket of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) came second. 

“At the end of a transparent, fair, orderly and timely and peaceful presidential election, the total number of valid votes cast was 13,434,574, representing 79 per cent of the total registered voters. Permit me to present the result in the order of appearance on the 2020 presidential ballot.” 

“At the end of the polls, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party obtained 6,730,413 votes, being 51.595% of the total valid votes cast. John Dramani Mahama of the National Democratic Congress obtained 6,214,889 votes being 47.366 of the total valid votes cast,” she said. 

A document from the EC shared with journalists who covered the declaration however stated different figures for votes won by each candidate. 


Data twist? 

Following that declaration, however, we found some discrepancies that have been highlighted below:

1. Madam Jean Mensa’s spoken declaration stated 13,434,574 as the total valid votes cast while the one captured on the EC’s official document was 13,121,111

2. Madam Jean Mensa declared that Akufo-Addo got 51.595% of the total valid votes cast while the official EC document captured 51.295%

3. The EC’s official artwork shared on its Facebook page to announce Akufo-Addo’s victory also stated 51.295%

C:\Users\Jonas\Desktop\EC artwork.jpg

This caught our attention because the 0.30% difference carries a significant number of votes, over 39,400

What percentage exactly did Akufo-Addo get?

Calculating for the actual percentage won involves dividing the total number of valid votes cast in favour of Akufo-Addo by the total number of valid votes cast and multiplying the result by 100.

Votes in favour of Akufo-Addo/ Total number of valid votes       × 100%

With two different “official” number of valid votes cast in the 2020 polls; these are the percentage votes Akufo-Addo would have won.

CandidateUsing 13,434,574Using 13,121,111
Nana Akufo-Addo50.0977%51.2945%
John Mahama46.260%47.3655%

More Data Twist?

The Electoral Commission on Thursday, December 10, 2020, released a press statement in which it revised the total number of valid votes cast from the 13,434,574 “inadvertently used” to 13,119,460.

“The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission inadvertently used 13,433,573 as the valid votes cast. The total valid votes cast is 13,119,460,” the statement said.  

Source: Electoral Commission of Ghana

The statement also came with reviewed actual figures for the number of votes obtained by each candidate. 

Below are the major differences we’ve seen.

Table 1: Results Declared By EC Chairperson on December 9 VS Results on EC Document Given to Journalists After Result Declaration

CandidateResults declared by Jean Mensa(Valid votes- 13,434,574)Percentage (%)Results captured on EC’s document(Valid votes 13,121,111)Percentage (%)
Nana Akufo-Addo6,730,41350.09776,730,41351.2945
John Mahama6,214,88946.26046,214,88947.3656
Christian Kwabena Andrews105,5650.78577105,5650.80454
Ivor Greenstreet12,2150.0909212,2150.09309
Akua Donkor5,5750.04155,5750.04249
Henry Herbert Lartey3,5740.02663,5740.02724
Hassan Ayariga7,1400.053157,1400.05442
Kofi Akpaloo7,6900.057247,6900.05861
David Apasera10,8870.0810410,8870.08297
Brigitte Dzogbenuku68480.0509768480.05219
Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings6,6120.049226,6120.05039
Asiedu Walker9,7030.072229,7030.07395

Table 2: Difference Between Reviewed Results Provided In EC Press Release on Thursday, December 10, 2020, And EC Document To Journalists After Wednesday’s Declaration

CandidateReviewed results (Valid votes 13,119,460)  Percentage (%)Difference between earlier results and reviewed results (Votes)
Nana Akufo-Addo6,730,58751.30232+174
John Mahama6,213,18247.35852-1707
Christian Kwabena Andrews105,5480.804515-17
Ivor Greenstreet12,2000.092992-15
Akua Donkor5,5740.042487-1
Henry Herbert Lartey3,5640.027166-10
Hassan Ayariga7,1380.054408-2
Kofi Akpaloo7,6830.058562-7
David Apasera10,8820.082945-5
Brigitte Dzogbenuku6,8490.052205+1
Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings6,5490.049918-63
Asiedu Walker9,7040.073966+1

Based on the above information, we find that the EC provided three different pieces of information on Ghana’s presidential election results. 

The last official information from the EC on the results of Ghana’s presidential elections is Thursday’s press release which said President Akufo-Addo obtained 6,730,587, constituting 51.30232 per cent and John Mahama, 6,213,182, representing 47.35852 per cent of 13,119,460 valid votes cast.

The results declared by Madam Jean Mensa has already been widely reported in both local and international media including France24, DW and Aljazeera although the EC has announced a revision. 

Besides the fact that widely publicized erroneous data would mislead the public, it is concerning that such errors will riddle a major election result declaration such as Ghana’s. 

The Vice President of IMANI Africa, Bright Simons believes that the situation is worrying. 

He says most of the challenges observed with the country’s elections have been as a result of poor execution of documentation and administrative tasks on the part of the independent election management body. 

“The problem is quite simply that over the past 10 years the country has spent roughly $200 million in biometric and allied technologies, systems and their maintenance. All this shiny gear does only one thing: stop impersonation. But this is hardly the biggest problem in our elections. As we saw in the 2013 petition and are seeing in the current slew of controversy, the real mess in the elections has always been clerical,” he said. 

He adds that based on how the EC conducts its administrative work, it is not surprising to him that the EC’s official results have changed a few times. 

“Apart from the seminal decision to give copies of pink sheets and other tally sheets to parties as a matter of right, we have done little to improve on that whole administrative and logistical process since 1992. It is thus not surprising that tallies for the same polling stations have differed across the political parties, the EC, the media and the observer missions… There certainly are concerns when even the Electoral Commission itself start flip-flopping on basic numbers. Hopefully, we shall not go to sleep on these issues like we did after the last petition.”

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