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Fee Hike not to frustrate small political parties, says Ghana Electoral Commission ahead of Polls

The Electoral commission also set September 29 and 30 as the dates for the candidates to officially present their nomination papers

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A sign for Ghana's Electoral Commission is seen at a voting station in Accra during a previous poll. Source:VOA
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  • Ghana’s Electoral Commission announced the fees for the nominees for the presidential and parliamentary candidates, i.e., $12,505 and $2,501 respectively
  • The announcement was made following a stakeholder’s meeting with the Interparty Advisory Committee in Accra
  • The Supreme Court of Ghana ordered the Electoral commission to delete the names of the registered voters who used their National Health Insurance Scheme card as an identification for registering

GHANA, Sept 14, 2016: The Electoral Commission of Ghana has sharply denied accusations that its newly released nomination fees for candidates are exorbitant and intended to frustrate smaller political parties.

Ghanaian electoral laws allow the commission to determine nomination fees for presidential and parliamentary candidates ahead of polls. Presidential candidates will be required to pay $12,505 and parliamentary candidates will pay $2,501 for the December 7 elections, the commission said.

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Spokesman Eric Dzakpasu said the commission made the announcement following a stakeholders meeting Thursday with the Interparty Advisory Committee in Accra.

“This is a decision taken by the commission at the very highest level, and I would say that it is not ‘elimination by rough tactics,’ as they put it. These are fees which have been informed by a lot of considerations. The law also makes a room that these are not fees that can be kept by the commission at all because they are refundable fees” for candidates who reach a specified level of support, Dzakpasu said.

“If you are a presidential candidate, by regulation, if at the end of the election you are able to get 29 percent of the votes cast in the election, your money is refunded to you,” he said. “If you are a parliamentary candidate if you are able to get 12.5 percent of the votes in your constituency, your money is refunded to you.”

Current Composition of the Parliament of Ghana. Source: VOA
Current Composition of the Parliament of Ghana. Source: VOA

Nomination papers

The commission also set September 29 and 30 as the dates for the candidates to officially present their nomination papers, which will allow them to qualify for ballot placement. Presidential candidates will need two signatures from each of the country’s more than 250 administrative districts, while the parliamentary candidates are required to have 20 signatories from their respective constituencies.

Meanwhile, an exhibition of the list of those who used the National Health Insurance Scheme card as identification during voter registration ends Saturday.

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Supreme Court judges recently ruled that the electoral commission should delete from the register names of those who used the NHIS cards. The commission then deleted the names and re-registered about 29,000 people.

Those who have been re-registered are required to check their information as captured during the process. This, the electoral commission said, forms part of its efforts to compile a credible voter list to be used for the December elections. (VOA)

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Facebook Assigns A Task Force For The Elections in India in 2019

Facebook said that India was an important market for Facebook and that it was strengthening the team in India to understand the local forms of hate speech.

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Fake News, Facebook
This photo shows the logo for Facebook on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York's Times Square. VOA

 Facing the uphill task of tackling election-related interference on its platform as India gets ready for polls next year, Facebook on Saturday said it is establishing a task force comprising “hundreds of people” in the country to prevent bad actors from abusing its platform.

“With the 2019 elections coming, we are pulling together a group of specialists to work together with political parties,” Richard Allan, Facebook’s Vice President for Global Policy Solutions, told the media here.

Facebook has also set a goal of bringing a transparency feature for political ads — now available in the US and Brazil — to India by March next year, Allan informed.

With the new ad architecture in place, people would be able to see who paid for a particular political ad.

Facebook, India
This photo shows a Facebook app icon on a smartphone in New York. VOA

In May this year, Facebook announced that all election-related ads on Facebook and Instagram in the US must be clearly labelled — including a “Paid for by” disclosure from the advertiser at the top of the ad.

When users click on the label, they would be taken to an archive with more information such as the campaign budget associated with an individual ad and how many people saw it – including their age, location and gender, Facebook had said.

The social media giant later introduced the transparency feature in Brazil.

The introduction of the same feature in India would help users identify political propaganda easily.

“The task force for India will have security specialists and content specialists, among others, who will try to understand all the possible forms of election-related abuse in India,” added Allan during a workshop on Facebook’s “community standards” in the capital.

India
A gardener works on the lawns of the Supreme Court in New Delhi, India. VOA

Allan explained that while the disinformation linked to real-world violence is checked by the team mandated to maintain Facebook’s community standards, other forms of disinformation are handled by a different team of fact checkers.

“The challenge for the task force in India would be to distinguish between real political news and political propaganda,” Allan noted, adding that the team would be very much based in the country and would consist of both existing human resources working on these issues within the company and new recruits.

Facebook came under intense scrutiny of policy makers in the US after allegations of Russia-linked accounts using the social networking platform to spread divisive messages during the 2016 presidential election surfaced.

Since then, it has stepped up efforts to check abuse of its platform by bringing in more transparency in the conduct of its businesses, including in advertisement policies.

India, BJP
Counting of Karnataka polls will be done on 15th May, VOA

Echoing Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s earlier comments on elections across the world, Allan said the social media platform “wants to help countries around the world, including India, to conduct free and fair elections”.

In April, Zuckerberg said Facebook will ensure that its platform is not misused to influence elections in India and elsewhere.

“Our goals are to understand Facebook’s impact on upcoming elections — like Brazil, India, Mexico and the US midterms — and to inform our future product and policy decisions,” he told US lawmakers during a hearing.

Facebook uses a combination of technology, including Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), and reports from its community to identify violating content on the platform.

The reports are reviewed by members of its “Community Operations” team who review content in over 50 languages in the world, including 12 from India.

Facebook, India
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the keynote address at a Facebook developers conference in San Jose, California. VOA

“By the end of 2018, we will have 20,000 people working on these issues, double the number we had at the same time last year,” he said.

“We are also working to enhance the work we do to proactively detect violating content,” Allan said.

Speaking at the 16th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit here later in the day, Allan said Facebook was cooperating fully with the investigating agency (Central Bureau of Investigation) in India with regard to the Cambridge Analytica data leak scandal.

The British political consultancy firm was in the midst of a huge controversy for allegedly inappropriately harvesting data from about 87 million Facebook accounts.

Without giving details of the impact that the Cambridge Analytica scandal had on India, he said that the impact was probably limited and that most users in India need not worry that their data was stolen.

Also Read: Facebook Better Prepared to Defend Itself Against External Manipulation For The Elections

“Yes, we have a responsibility to keep data safe. We employ some of the best security engineers in the world. When we notice a breach, we let people know immediately,” Allan said at the summit.

“We are investing more and more in countries outside the US so that they can tell us how our services should be designed,” he said, adding that India was an important market for Facebook and that it was strengthening the team in India to understand the local forms of hate speech. (IANS)