The 2012 elections participatory process engaged the major political parties of Ghana, which are the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the New Patriotic Party (NPP), and eyewitnesses of voter fraud (citizens) in verifying the accuracy of the 2012 presidential elections.
Problems and Purpose
The problems the process addressed included voter registration fraud as claimed by the New Patriotic Party, the opposing party, who stated the “votes had been manipulated.” The NPP also pointed out that some biometric machines malfunctioned; thus, some people voted without verifying their identity through the biometric system. As such, those votes were inaccurately added to the voter count. This process was set to address all these issues to ensure free and fair elections in the coming years.
Background History and Context
General elections have been a part of Ghana’s history since 1992, when Ghana transitioned into a democratic country. Since its inception, Ghana has held elections every four years. It has an excellent reputation in Africa and the world as a peaceful country because of the smooth transition of power. Citizens turn out in significant numbers during election days (which is a national holiday) to vote. The candidate that gets the most votes is elected president. In past elections, there had been cries of fraud, but they were mostly ignored; however, according to the opposing party, the 2012 election fraud was so apparent that it had to be addressed to help fix the broken electoral system. It is noteworthy to mention that this participatory process has never been used in Ghana; thus, it set a precedent.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The process was organized by the New Patriotic Party, who lost the elections, and citizens who felt that the election was rigged . The electoral commission also helped in the process by facilitating deliberations with identified constituencies. The organizers interacted amongst themselves through their political party meetings and associations. The National Democratic Congress (NDC) also recruited eye witnesses from different polling stations to serve as witnesses.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
The process involved two types of participatory design: court hearings/proceedings and constituency forums . The court proceedings include nine supreme court justices, three lawyers from each party, witnesses (citizens), and the electoral commissioner. The constituency forums also included members of the constituencies identified as having high fraudulent voter count in collaboration with the members of the electoral commission. The court proceedings took place between April 16 and August 29 2013, while the constituency forums took place between February and March 2013. The recruitment method for the court proceedings was structured. Both political parties’ members participated in targeted recruitment and picked vital witnesses who would support their case. The constituency forums were broader and more unstructured because they involved interviewing and talking with different members of the identified communities as it was open to all members of the constituency where there was widespread voter fraud; thus, everyone could walk in. Ghanaians chose to participate because they wanted to voice out their opinions and participate in the democratic process. Also, radio stations broadcasted the townhalls, and citizens were encouraged to join out of their own free will. Thus, there were no incentives given. Peaceful protest also occurred around the country. The participants of the recruitment process were self-selected.
Methods and Tools Used
Each court hearing was held at the supreme court of Ghana, with the Justices listening and hearing from both political parties as they described the events. Polling officers (the people who count the votes) also testified how they calculated the votes. The electoral commissioner also testified about the malfunctioned biometric system, and witnesses from different constituencies also testified about any red flags they witnessed at their various polling stations. This method was implemented to sound an alarm about the fraudulent electoral and its impact on democracy.
The constituency forums, which are similar to townhalls, were also organized in different communities. More information about town hall structures can be found here: https://participedia.net/method/5312. The members of the electoral commission facilitated these sections with help from local leaders. This method was used to gather feedback from citizens on how to improve the electoral system.
Also, peaceful protests occurred all around the country with Ghanaians, going out to share their concerns. More information on peaceful protests can be found here: https://participedia.net/method/4426.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
There were constituency forums, and the electoral commission members facilitated the discussion with community leaders' help. These forums were more like a discussion as members of the communities were engaged and open. Members of the communities gathered to talk about their election experiences. Topics discussed ranged from if they thought the outcome of the elections was fair to their experiences with the biometric system and the electoral system as a whole. Citizens shared the stories, opinions and their perspectives. This facilitation was unbiased, and the deliberations fostered togetherness because the forums include citizens from opposing sides pf the political spectrum. The feedback from these forums were communicated to chairpersons of the various political parties in Ghana. Moreover, they also discussed them on radio and television channels (panel discussions). This feedback helped to improve the electoral process and made it better, which was evident in the next general elections.
There were peaceful protests where citizens took to the streets holding signs about the importance of free and fair elections, democracy, and Ghana’s development. These peaceful protests occurred in different parts of the country, and people chose to participate because they wanted to emphasize the importance of free and fair elections.
There was much testifying to the court; both parties presented witnesses from the constituencies believed to have experienced biometric machines malfunctioning to explain how it happened and how the voting preceded after the machines malfunctioned. The NPP discussed events like the malfunctioning of the biometric machines as a hindrance to free and fair elections with the NDC defending their win and stating why they think they won free and fair.
Some of the significant issues the opposition brought up in their petition to the court were:
1. The electoral Commission permitted voting to occur in many polling stations across the country without prior biometric verification by the EC staff, contrary to the electoral regulations .
2. “The voting in polling stations where voting took place without prior biometric registration was unlawfully taken into account in the declaration of results by the Electoral Commission in the Presidential election held on 7th and 8th December 2012” 
3. The total number of registered voters as published by the EC and provided to all political parties or candidates for the presidential and parliamentary election was 14,031,680. However, the total number of registered voters that the EC announced mysteriously metamorphosed to a new and inexplicable figure of 14,158,890 with a wrongfully and unlawfully increased the total number of registered voters 127, 210 .
These issues and many others were thoroughly examined and evidence presented from both sides. The justices made their decisions at the end of all the testimonies and evidence were presented by casting a vote. The results of the verdict were communicated to citizens through the national television networks, and the verdict was final.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
This process influenced Ghana’s elections positively in a tremendous way. At the end of the court proceedings, the nine justices ruled. However, “with a unanimous decision, the Justices dismissed the allegation ...” . Four ruled in favor of the petition; however, five ruled against the petition stating that there was no evidence to rule that the past elections were rigged. Thus, the opposition lost the court hearing . Even though the results did not go to favor the opposition, they accepted the results. The peaceful protest and town halls also showed how passionate Ghanaians were and how they valued elections. Even though it did not change the election results, this election petition changed the democracy for Ghanaians as citizens were able to voice out their opinions. Ghanaians value democracy and have upheld elections to the highest standards. The biometric process was also revised and made better in the next election because of the process.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
Even though the opposition party's petition and the widespread notion that the election was rigged threatened Ghana’s democracy and peace, Ophelia believes that the process redefined Ghana’s democracy because instead of resulting in riots, Ghana resorted to a citizen participatory process and a constitutional petition of the electoral results to validate the election results . Ghanaians were also allowed to engage in civic dialogues and participate in the process through constituency forums. Despite some glitches, “Ghana remains a model democracy, not just for Africa but the world” . To this date, Ghana remains a stable democracy and has become a beacon of hope to other West African countries.
The original submission of this case entry was written by Ophelia Akoto, a Master of Public Service candidate at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. The views expressed in the current version are those of the authors, editors, or cited sources, and are not necessarily those of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service
 Karikari-apau, N. (2020, October 20). Ghana's president re-elected a result opposition claims was 'manipulated.' https://www.cnn.com/2012/12/09/world/africa/ghana-elections/index.html
 Krawczyk K.A. (2019) Ghana’s 2012 General Election: Free, Fair, and Flawed?. In: Brown M., Hale K., King B. (eds) The Future of Election Administration. Elections, Voting, Technology. Palgrave Pivot, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-18541-1_12
 Asante, W., & Asare, B. E. (2017). Ghana’s 2012 election petition and its outcome: A giant leap towards democratic consolidation. Selected issues in Ghana’s democracy, 107-124
 Laumann, D., Laumann, D., Williams, C., Otondi, S., Auerbach, J., Okiche, W., . . . Brown, B. (2012, November 12). Six lessons from Ghana's 2012 elections. Retrieved October 23, 2020, from https://africasacountry.com/2012/12/six-lessons-from-ghanas-2012-elections
 Akoto, Ophelia. (2020, December). An analysis of the Ghana elections.
The first version of this case entry was written by Ophelia Akoto, a Master of Public Service candidate at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service, and then edited. The views expressed in the entry are those of the authors, editors, or cited sources, and are not necessarily those of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.