More than half of Ghanaians are not aware of the December 2019 referendum, new Afrobarometer study shows

More than half of Ghanaians say they are not aware of the upcoming December 2019 referendum on whether local government elections should be made partisan or remain non-partisan, a new Afrobarometer survey indicates.

Men, the highly educated, and elderly citizens are more aware of the referendum than women, citizens with less schooling, and young adults. Although a slim majority of those who are aware of the referendum find the Electoral Commission’s preparations for the referendum to be satisfactory, very few say there has been a lot of education about the voting exercise.

The survey also shows that a significant proportion of Ghanaians are either not likely to vote in the referendum or “don’t know” whether or not they will vote.

The referendum seeks the opinion of Ghanaians as to whether local government elections should be open to partisan political competition. The Constitution requires a minimum 40% voter turnout for the referendum to be valid. But there is a risk of low voter turnout for this referendum, since it will be conducted together with local government elections, which historically attract less than 40% of registered voters. For the Electoral Commission, policy makers, and civil society, these findings point to a need for intensified education.