Elections and other political processes are pivotal to the quality of a country’s governance and can either greatly advance or set back a country’s long-term democratic development, as well as regional and global foreign policy priorities.
The most fundamental principle defining credible elections is that they must reflect the free expression of the will of the people.
To achieve this, elections should be transparent, inclusive, and accountable, and there must be equitable opportunities to compete in the elections. These broad principles are buttressed by several electoral process-related obligations, as well as a number of key rights and freedoms, each of which derive from public international law. The electoral cycle approach depicts elections as a continuous, integrated process made up of building blocks that interact with and influence each other, rather than as a series of isolated events.
Thus, ‘Free’ means that all those entitled to vote have the right to be registered and to vote and must be free to make their choice. In Ghana every citizen over the age of 18 is entitled to vote. An election is considered ‘free’ when you can decide whether or not to vote and vote freely for the candidate or party of your choice without fear or intimidation. A ‘free’ election is also one where you are confident that who you vote for remains your secret(secret ballot)
‘Fair’ means that all registered political parties have an equal right to contest the elections, campaign for voter support and hold meetings and rallies. This gives them a fair chance to convince voters to vote for them. A fair election is also one in which all voters have an equal opportunity to register, where all votes are counted, and where the announcement results reflect the actual vote totals.