Possible Court Injunction To Stop NPP-USA 2018 Elections
After reading the response from the NEC concerning the petition on NPP-USA 2018 elections, I write to inform the Ghana executives about my intention to place court order on the elections, purposely to restrain the election committee from using the online or email voting system. I am an eligible voter and I found that the NEC’s response to the petition does not resolve the issues raised particularly, it doesn’t have a defined timeline to ensure that the online voting system is cancelled and also to allow all chapter members of good standing to cast their votes. The online voting system is scheduled to begin Thursday, March 15 and end on Friday March 16. This system can lead to chaos in NPP-USA and as a concerned member who advocate for peaceful, free, fair and transparent elections, I would like to take a legal action to restore calm.
The online voting system was used in 2014 but some members were dissatisfied with its credibility with allegations electoral rigging. The NPP-USA should have organized a congress for all irregularities to be ratified to ensure that our elections conform to NPP’s constitution, as enshrined in Article 8(1) and (3) of the NPP constitution, which states that the activities and regulations of all external branches should be governed by the NPP constitution. In Ghana, the national officers are elected during an annual delegates conference, where voters physically cast their votes, as stated in Article 9 (A)(4)(a). Why should we conduct our elections in such a way that anybody can vote online without cross checking the eligibility of the voter? Why should we conduct our elections when many members are complaining that the same online system was hacked in the 2014 national election to favour the incumbent?
After the 2014 election, some of the supporters of the incumbent boasted of multiple voting with other people’s access codes. Such boastful and mockery pronunciations led many members, including the petitioners, resolved to protest any future online or email voting and rather demand for physical voting at chapter level. Even in the highly technically developed United States, where voting is conducted on computer, voters physically cast their votes after the electoral college representatives cross-check their identification and eligibility to vote. People in USA don’t vote from their homes to pave way for rigging. After the 2014 elections, we were expecting to ratify the anomalies at an organized congress as stated in Article 4.12(b)(iv) of the NPP-USA by-laws before the next national elections.
Sadly, the current voter register is bloated in such a way that immigrants who came to USA for just visits and later went back to Ghana, I mean non NPP-USA members, who were fraudulently issued with NPP-USA ID cards purposely to seek political favours in Ghana, have been included in the register and are expected to vote from Ghana through the fraudulent online or email system. I have a solid evidence to prove my claim. Also, all members who have relocated to Ghana and still willing to vote should travel to USA and vote accordingly, based on our constitutional provision. During the 2016 elections in Ghana, eligible voters living in USA travelled to cast their votes in their various constituencies in Ghana. Similarly, during constituency and regional elections in Ghana, members travel within the country to vote. Why can’t our people in Ghana who wish to continue to be part of NPP-USA travel back to USA and vote? This election is for NPP-USA members ONLY.
Currently, there is no constitutional support for using the proposed online or email voting system, unless the NPP constitution in Ghana is amended to make provision for any such system in any of the overseas branches. The opposition built on the petition sent to annul the email voting by the current chairperson who is also vying for chairmanship position, smacks some mischief.
Also, the unflinching support mounted by the current electoral committee members who were appointed by this same chairperson, clearly indicate potential rigging plans for the elections as it allegedly happened in 2014. After the 2014 elections, some active members dissociated themselves from all party activities because they felt cheated. It is sad that the current eligible voters across the whole of USA is about 320, meanwhile we have over 500,000 Ghanaians living in USA. This apathy, divisions and confusions developed within the branch is because the alleged rigging of the 2014 elections. To enable NPP-USA to mobilize more members for the implementation of the ROPAA, free, fair and transparent elections should be conducted with all eligible voters assembled to vote through the physical ballot box system.
Article 4.2 (page 8) of the NPP-USA by-laws states the following:
“Prior to the NPP-USA Congress of 2009, The National Executive shall propose amendment to the relevant sections of the By-Laws authorizing all paid up members of NPP-USA a universal suffrage of the elections of some National Executive members through one-person-one vote though the use of the electronic ballots. Said elections shall be supervised by an Electoral Committee approved in advance of the elections by the incumbent National Committee with the concurrence of representative Chapter Executives or the National Advisory Board. The Electoral Committee shall communicate the method that will allow each eligible member of NPP-USA in good standing to cast a vote for the electable national officers. Results shall be announced at the most proceeding NPP-USA National Congress where the winners shall be acclaimed. The winner of each position shall be by a simple majority. Where there is a tie, provision shall be made for a run-off for only that position which shall be determined by a simple majority”.
Considering the technicalities of this article in the by-laws, the “though the use of the electronic ballots” did not say “through” the use of electronic ballot to restrict voters from casting their votes by using only electronic ballot. Even if we are to use the electronic ballot, it did not restrict voters to categorically use online or email voting system. The electronic can be conducted like the United States type of voting, where the voters physically cast their votes on the computer after the electoral college representatives cross-check their identification and eligibility to vote. Although, the by-laws state that the electoral committee communicates the method of voting to elect national officers, it should be expected to conform to the voting system in Ghana, where eligible voters cast their votes in a ballot box in the presence of polling agents and election observers. This NPP-USA online voting system is totally different, alien to any democratically organized elections and a calculated attempt to rig the upcoming elections to favour the incumbent as occurred in 2014.
Based on the electoral commission’s calendar for the online or email elections and considering the limited time left to decide the election procedures, pending investigations, we would like to inform you about our plan to seek legal grievance from the law court by restraining the electoral committee from conducting the online or email elections until the executive committee in Ghana instructs them to conduct the elections in compliance with the provisions of NPP constitution, which supersedes any by-laws. The proposed online or email voting system is highly unacceptable and any attempt to impose such system on us may lead to confusion and animosity in the NPP-USA. We demand a credible and transparent election and therefore we vehemently oppose the online or email voting system.
After discussing this court injunction plan with many NPP-USA members, we decided to exhaust all the party’s internal grievance procedures as stated in Article 3.2D(viii) in NPP-USA by-laws up to Friday March 9, 2018. Failure to direct the NPP-USA chairperson, who at the same time running for the chair position and the election committee appointed by the incumbent from conducting the online voting system by 6pm Ghana time on Friday, we will proceed and file for court injunction to suspend the elections until the right procedures are followed in line with Ghana or USA federal elections. We will accept only physical voting at the chapter level and nothing else. Also, we would like to notify you that the NPP-USA will pay for all the legal expenses associated with the court injunction, after the court justifies our intentions to restore peace in the branch and United States where we live.
Since we have high level of mistrust in the online or email voting system, which is not in conformity with the NPP constitution, we again plead to the NPP-NEC to entirely cancel the fraudulent online or email voting system to restore sanity and allow peace and tranquility to prevail in NPP-USA branch. We are confident that you will objectively address the concerns raised in the petition. Long live NPP! long live Ghana!!
Solomon K. A. Owusu
California Chapter, NPP-USA.