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IMPACT OF VOTING INCENTIVES ON VOTER'S DECISION IN GHANA 2020 ELECTION

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IMPACT OF VOTING INCENTIVES ON VOTER'S DECISION  IN GHANA 2020 ELECTION

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the study

Currently, in several nations throughout the world, rising democracies employ multi-party elections to choose their national leaders. According to Boafo-Arthur (2019), elections play a crucial role in assessing the strength of democratic institutions and are significant for both the nation's development and its citizens. It guarantees the reinforcement of democratic foundations such as the rule of law, confidentiality of voting, division of powers, autonomy of the judiciary, and numerous others. Nevertheless, in certain developing nations, particularly in Africa, the standard of elections exhibits significant disparities due to prevalent issues including ballot fraud, intimidation, multiple voting, inadequate voter education, theft of ballot boxes, violence, distribution of electoral incentives or vote-buying, and other related challenges (Dankwa & Eshun, 2018).

Since the early 1970s, the proliferation of democratic elections worldwide has coincided with the increase in electoral incentives and the practice of purchasing votes (Baidoo et al., 2018). Electoral bribery has been pervasive in several nations that have progressed towards democracy.  Vicente (2022),in his study averred that vote buying is a common occurrence in several regions around the globe.Vote buying manifests in many forms within each community. It can manifest as direct monetary transfers to voters (Baidoo et al., 2018). According to Schaffer & Schedler (2015), vote buying, in its literal interpretation, refers to a straightforward commercial transaction. Candidates engage in the practice of purchasing votes, while individuals participate in the act of selling their votes, treating them as commodities akin to apples, shoes, or television sets. He asserts that vote buying is essentially a transaction, resembling either a contract or an auction, in which voters exchange their ballots for monetary compensation from the one offering the highest price. Political parties and politicians that promise tangible advantages to voters sometimes seek to secure political support using a transactional approach, akin to a commercial deal.When distributing these 'goodies' or 'freebies,' political parties and politicians focus on two key topics. Political parties take into account the voter's demographic profile as one of the two primary variables while attempting to secure votes.

In a detailed study, Cox and McCubbins (1986) cited in Gans-Morse, Mazzuca,  & Nichter (2021) categorize voters into three distinct groups: core supporters, swing votes, and opposition backers. Therefore, in each political system, these three prominent categories of voters can be distinguished, and they constitute the individuals who are specifically targeted in the act of vote buying. Schaffer & Schedler (2015) propose that the second aspect involves vote trading proposals that may be directed towards either electoral choices or electoral participation. These messages may have the purpose of influencing persons to vote in specific manners, or to either vote or abstain from voting altogether.The Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD, Ghana), Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), and Coalition of Domestic Observers (CODEO) have consistently highlighted the issue of vote buying in Ghana's elections. Through workshops and reports based on pre-election surveys conducted prior to the 2012 and 2016 general elections, these civil institutions and stakeholders have gathered evidence and issued warnings about the detrimental impact of this practice on Ghana's democratic process. 

Bizarrely other claims by Akwetey (2016) revealed that in Ghana, politicians occasionally impose limitations on these instances of vote buying. There are stories suggesting that voters who receive electoral incentives are occasionally required to take an oath in the name of a deity to ensure that they fulfil their obligations as agreed. Furthermore, there are claims that certain voters are being requested to reveal the candidate they voted for, and are required to provide photographic documentation of their votes as proof before receiving payment for their cooperation. These actions subvert the confidentiality of voting as protected by election legislation and the constitution of Ghana (Baidoo et al., 2018).

1.2  Statement of the problem

            Throughout the years, the nation's democracy has faced significant challenges as a result of illicit actions undertaken by politicians in order to purchase the votes of constituents. There is a widespread belief that politicians distribute public resources in a manner that maximizes their political advantages. Politicians encounter immense pressure to provide bribes in return for votes. Ghanaian leaders are under pressure to deliver private rewards to voters, often at significant personal cost. Nugent (2017) observes that voters anticipate receiving presents as a demonstration that the candidate truly prioritises the welfare of the local population. Nevertheless, neglecting to do so conveys an unfavourable message to voters.Kramon,& Posner (2023) mentioned that pre-election polls done by CDD Ghana for the 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections, as well as past elections in Ghana, provide evidence that a significant amount of vote-buying takes place in the days and weeks preceding the elections. Supposedly, the electoral motivations encompass a variety of benefits including contracts, employment opportunities, community projects (such as infrastructure and educational facilities), automobiles, petrol cylinders, cash, construction materials, outboard motors, motor cycles, computers and other items. (Baidoo et al., 2018) also noted that in the run-up to elections, such as the one in 2020, Ghanaian politicians provide inducements and presents to voters, including motorcycles, building supplies (particularly roofing sheets and bags of cement), boat engines, mobile phones, t-shirts, food items, and money. Some communities receive benefits in the form of "last minute" projects, such as roads, school buildings, electricity, and toilet facilities. These projects are allegedly used as a means of influencing voters to support or oppose specific candidates and political parties. This practice is becoming increasingly concerning. However, despite the widespread occurrence of this phenomena,  it remains uncertain if there is a correlation between vote buying and the voting patterns and choices of individuals.  Against the backdrop, this study seeks to examine  impact of voting incentives on voter's decision  in Ghana 2020 election.

1.3       Objective of the study

The main objective of this study is focused on  impact of voting incentives on voter's decision  in Ghana 2020 election.  Other specific objectives includes;

i.          To investigate  the  extent at which Ghana politicians gives out voting incentives   during 2020 elections in Ghana.

ii.        To examine the forms  vote buying incentives issues to electorates during 2020 election.

iii.      To ascertain whether there is significant impact  of vote buying incentives on  decisions of voters during elections.

1.4 Research Questions

i.          What is  the  extent at which Ghana politicians gives out voting incentives   during 2020 elections in Ghana.

ii.        What are the forms  vote buying incentives issues to electorates during 2020 election.

iii.      Is  there any  significant impact  of vote buying incentives on  decisions of voters during elections.

1.5Research Hypotheses

Ho: There is no significant impact  of vote buying incentives on  decisions of voters during elections.

Hi: There is a significant impact  of vote buying incentives on  decisions of voters during elections.

1.6       Significance of the Study

This research is significant in such a way that it electoral bodies, civil societies, and non-state actors through the result of the study would develop a framework spearheaded to strengthen democracy by mounting vigorous campaigns to educate the electorates not to accept financial or material rewards before they vote for a particular candidate or party as this amount to selling one’s conscience. It also x-rays the fundamental factors associated with vote buying culture  and ultimately recommends ways for obviating them. It will serve as an eye opener to researchers, government officials and general readers who truly intend to understand the impediment to democratic consolidation in Ghana. Again, it will serve to sensitize the public and create awareness as to the destructive potentials of election malpractice towards the aspiration for democratization in Ghana. Empirically, the study will contribute to body of knowledge and serve as a reference material to student and scholars who wishes to conduct further studies in related field.

1.7       Scope of the study

The scope of this study borders on impact of voting incentives on voter's decision  in Ghana 2020 election. The study will further discuss the level of voting buying  incentives  and forms  Ghana politicians gives out voting incentives   during  elections  and as discuss if there is a significant impact  of vote buying incentives on  decisions of voters during elections. The study will draw its participant from group of potential voters in Bono East Region Ghana .

1.8  Limitation of the study

The researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. The significant constraint was the scanty literature on the subject owing that  voters buying discourse is vast thus the researcher incurred more financial expenses and much time was required in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection, which is why the researcher resorted to a limited choice of sample size covering only potential voters in Shama District in the Western region Ghana Thus findings of this study cannot be used for generalization for  other District within Ghana. Additionally, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work will impede maximum devotion to the research. Howbeit, despite the constraint  encountered during the  research, all factors were downplayed in other to give the best and make the research successful.

1.9       Definition of Terms

Election: An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual or multiple individuals to hold public office. 

Vote buying: Vote buying (also referred to as electoral clientelism and patronage politics) occurs when a political party or candidate distributes money or resources to a voter in an upcoming election with the expectation that the voter votes for the actor handing out monetary rewards.

Election outcome: The elections outcome summarize the voting results of an election. Election results are also known as the voting results 


This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research



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