Frequently Asked Questions – ROPAA (Representation of the Peoples Amendment Act).

1. This will bring chaos because there are so many Ghanaians scattered all over the world. The Electoral Commission has enough problems managing elections in Ghana, how are they going to monitor elections around the entire planet?

Talk and threat of chaos are uninformed and nothing more than peddling emotionalism. The Lord has visited humankind with many ways to stay in touch with each other without physically moving. Let us not as a nation pledge to stay in darkness. Let us break the shackles of fear. Let us once again trust our Electoral Commission to learn from the many countries that have and do overseas voting. We are not setting a record of first here. The HOW will come when the WHAT is answered. For the WHAT Ghana cannot escape the effects of globalization. If Senegal, South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Mali, Rwanda, South Sudan, Cape Verde and Niger can implement overseas voting for many years without chaos being visited upon their countries, surely, the land of the black star, could and should do no less.

2. Isn’t the NPP government behind the effort to implement ROPAA and is the PAM itself unrepresentative of all Ghanaians living abroad?

In October 2005 a group of 13 Ghanaians Living Abroad (GLAs) raised their own funds to advocate for the passage of ROPAA. Thank God they succeeded. Now it is up to PAM to finish what our brothers and sisters started. Not a pesewa of the $40,000 came from any Ghana political party. PAM aims to adhere to the same principle. PAM will raise all the required amounts from GLAs. Just as the delegation of 13 reflected the variety of Ghana’s ethnicity and political persuasions with no hidden agenda, PAM likewise draws its support from all ethnicities, domiciles, political persuasions, age, and gender. PAM’s supporters grow exponentially each day. PAM is open to all and committed to one cause. We take note that a running poll by the Ghanaweb shows that 70% believe that “Ghanaians abroad should be given the right to vote from abroad.”

3. What benefit will come to Ghana from allowing GLAs to vote?

We must emphasize that no one is required to prove their value to a nation before they are allowed to cast a vote. The right to vote as granted to all Ghanaian citizens has only two requirements that the applicant registering to vote be eighteen or older and secondly be of sound mind- nothing more. GLAs shall not assume a burden that is not placed on other citizens of Ghana. If one must insist on an answer to this question just for its own sake, then we can state positively that the act of registering and voting in any election forces the participant to pay attention to the issues. Thus the GLAs will have higher levels of awareness, and who knows, their monies and talents may follow their new levels of interest in Ghana. In terms of benefits, we conclude that any fool can count the number of seeds in an orange but even the wisest person cannot count how many oranges will come from one seed. Benefits to Ghana go way beyond the billions of remitted foreign exchange that undergirds the country’s economy.

4. Do GLAs want to vote in Presidential or Parliamentary elections?

It would be impossible to send 275 ballot boxes representing Ghana’s current constituencies to all the remote corners of the world. Article 42 of the Constitution says that Ghanaian citizens shall register as voters for the purposes of “public elections and referenda. “ It is our hope that all the elections anticipated by the Constitution will be extended to GLAs. We are not unmindful of the steps that would be necessary to get to the point of involving GLAs in both presidential and parliamentary elections. Once again, we note that other nations have done this and we can learn from them. In Senegal and Rwanda, their overseas citizens initially voted in only Presidential elections. Senegal extended the parliamentary vote in the second term, and only for overseas representatives. Thus overseas citizens are constituted as one constituency for their own parliamentary seats(s). Lessons abound that Ghana can learn from. No one anticipates sending 275 ballot boxes around the world. Multi-step implementation is a viable solution. For most countries, the embassies have served as the polling stations with observations by all stakeholders; others have created additional polling stations to accommodate geographic dispersion and concentration.

5. GLAs will unduly influence elections in Ghana and decide something different from the wish of the people of Ghana.

The short answer to this is that the “G” in GLAs is the common denominator. We are all Ghanaians, just as the constitution says. There is no such thing as changing the wish of the people of Ghana. The people of Ghana live in Ghana and everywhere else. It is not much different from all of us cheering for our national soccer team-the Black Stars knowing full well that the players live in many parts of the world to ply their trade but come together to lift up our flag. . Once again we can learn from other nations before us. Nowhere have there been unintended outcomes solely on account of their overseas vote. Let us not sell and buy fear because FEAR is only False Evidence Appearing Real.

6. So what is next for the PAM?

The right to vote is an inalienable right and the opinion of Justice Bamford Addo of Ghana is an appropriate way to underscore this fundamental aspect of nationhood: “We in this country have adopted a democratic form of Government, as well as other political rights including the right to vote. This right ought to be exercised in a free and fair manner as provided for under various Articles of the Constitution and other laws. Therefore any act which seeks to deprive, undermine, prevent or hinder the people, or any section thereof from voting and thereby participating in the political life of the community is wrong and illegal, it is a major deprivation of their right to vote, which is contrary to our constitution and undermine the whole concept of a democratic government.”
Ghanaians living both at home and abroad have a duty to monitor the extension of this right of all its citizens and to cherish its implementation with integrity and fairness at all times. PAM will continue to do its part and this could have several avenues such as cooperating with the Electoral Commission (EC) and the National Identification Directorate to help them achieve their goals. With ROPAA now law as Article 699, as current President Mahama said in Worcester, USA, on September 27, 2014, GLAs should urge the EC to implement Act 699 for the 2016 elections. PAM fully intends to do this urging via the Ghana supreme court. May we emphasize that in all of these, PAM will strictly remain non-partisan and non-ethnic in make-up, spirit, and in action. It is not an exclusive club. All are welcome.

7. But wouldn’t it be easy for votes to be rigged overseas?

No one can guarantee the complete sanctity of votes anywhere. We all remember the famous pink sheets of 2013. The point is that complaints of massive rigging and voter fraud were not blamed on overseas voting but Ghana’s. With that in the rear view mirror, we can anticipate that voting in Ghana’s missions under the watchful eyes of party representatives, returning officers, flanked by numerous electronic eyes would be less subject to rigging than the cases of pink sheets.

8. We do not know the number of Ghanaians living abroad so would non-Ghanaians not easily register to vote overseas, especially in West Africa?

The purpose of registration before voting is to precisely get the number of expected voters. The same process would be undertaken overseas. Not putting the cart before the horse, the EC’s registration would give the numbers before the voting. Voting is divided into two steps to answer the question of counts everywhere. We would dare say that Ghanaians are more easily identified overseas than those in Ghana. How? To be able to register to vote overseas, you would need some type of identification which is not the case to register in Ghana where people simply join lines.

9. Okay, but where is the money to fund ROPAA’s implementation going to come from?

The original group of 13 and PAM have insisted that the financing of all national elections is the responsibility of the central government. No one in and outside Ghana should be taxed specifically to finance a national election.. That would be vote buying and against the constitution of the country. We are much pleased that President Mahama has come around to validate this truth. He said in Worcester that “the government should be able to provide funds for the exercise if the EC decided on its implementation.”

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