Dec. 7, 2012, midnight

Ghanaian citizens head to the polls today to elect a new President and legislature.  A total of 8 candidates will compete in the presidential contest, including frontrunner and incumbent John Dramani MAHAMA of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), and his main challenger, the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) AKUFO-ADDO.  Both candidates are expected to compete in a close race.

In Ghana, presidents are elected by a majority vote to serve a 4-year term. The remaining 6 candidates are expected to garner no more than 1 percent of votes each. If no candidate wins a majority (50 percent + 1 majority vote) in the first round, then a run-off election will occur on December 28.

275 members of parliament (MPs) are elected by a plurality vote in single member districts. Previously, Ghana had 230 electoral districts, but this year the number was changed to 275 after the creation of 45 new constituencies. Out of 23 registered political parties, 7 will compete in the election. They include the NDC with a parliamentary majority of 116 seats, its competitor the NPP with 107 seats, and smaller parties such as the People’s National Convention (NPC) and the Convention People’s Party (CPP).

Ghana’s electoral commission chief, Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, recently revealed that a new biometric voter registration (BVR) system had been tested over the past two months, and earlier this past week in specific constituencies.  Additionally, this year a system of SMS Voter Registration Check Up was introduced, allowing voters to verify their voting status, their constituencies, and polling stations by sending an SMS with their 10-digit voter ID number in it.

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