Ghana election: Fact-checking claims about voting day

By Reality Check team
BBC News

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Image source, Getty Images

Voters in Ghana have gone to the polls to choose a new president and 275 members of parliament.

The country is regarded as one of the most democratic in West Africa.

But there have been some examples of misinformation about the voting.

Were ballots printed to favour the president?

A video has been circulating on social media channels that purports to show a ballot with a larger fingerprint box for President Nana Akufo-Addo.

Image caption,
A screenshot from the video circulating on WhatsApp

The video - which is just over three minutes long - claims the ballot paper has been produced in such a way that votes for opposition candidates will be discounted because the blank boxes, where the thumb impression goes, are too small.

The footage shows an individual making this claim, and placing his finger in the box of an opposition candidate to show it won't fit within the space.

This claim was first highlighted by West African fact-checking site Dubawa.

However, the ballot featured in the video is missing some of the features that appear on official ballots, such as a red background behind all the images and an official stamp.

An official from Ghana's electoral authorities told the BBC that the ballot did not come from the commission.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
An official ballot from the Ghanaian election

The video was found circulating in WhatsApp groups, but as it's a closed social media platform it's not possible to calculate the exact number of shares.

However, when the BBC received the video it came with the label "forwarded many times".

Police training videos are not real incidents

Some users have shared videos online, which they say are examples of polling day incidents where there's been police or security force involvement.

On examination, these are actually taken from police training or simulation exercises in preparation for the vote, and not from polling day itself.

One example is a video said to show the police shooting someone who had allegedly snatched a ballot box at a polling station in southern Ghana.

But police spokeswoman Sheilla Abayie-Buckman told the BBC this particular video is from north-western Ghana and was taken back in September.

She told us she recognised it because she was present at this event, which was held by local police to show their readiness for the elections to the country's police chief.

Did the army 'storm' one constituency?

A Facebook post on 5 December by a TV station called Hijrah TV News Ghana talked of security forces "storming" one area - Asawasi - in Kumasi district in southern Ghana and issuing warnings to local people.

The Facebook post is tagged #AsawasiConstituencyTensions, and carries a Hausa-language report.

The fact-checking service, Fact-Check Ghana, said this post should be disregarded for talking about the military having "stormed" the area.

So what was the army doing?

During the TV report, the reporter talks to an army officer, who does issue a warning about people firing or brandishing weapons on election day, or attempting to steal ballot boxes.

Map

But there is no reference in the report itself to the military "storming" the area.

The BBC's Zawadi Mudibo, who was in Kumasi on election day, says that local people told him there'd not been any unusual activity or extra presence by the military in the run-up to the vote.

He was told the situation was normal, so the use of the word "storming" to describe the army's activities there does appear misleading.