And who says Ghana has nothing to teach America in democratic electoral politics? Well, I said it and now I say it no more and so should you. The United States of America goes to the polls on November 8th, Ghana will do same a month later, but that is where the comparisons end really.

The USA will go into their polls backed by 240 years of experience in holding peaceful, free, fair and transparent elections that often culminates into smooth transitions of power from one president to the next. Well, it sounds absurd to say but this year’s U.S. election could undo all that experience.

Ironically, American Democratic Electoral politics decided to go backwards in the year it celebrated its 240th independence, 2016.

For once in America, talk of a rigged election dominates the media discussions. It use to be the case in Ghana, it is less so today. But even more astonishing is the fact that people believe the claims of a rigged American election. The Washington Post last week documented many Donald Trump supporters determined to protect the ballot with their lives anticipating massive nationwide rigging.

Protecting a ballot with your life is a phrase I use to hear often within Ghanaian electoral politics, not in the U.S.

And for Donald Trump, the republican presidential candidate who is now importing traits of “An African Election” into the world’s most powerful democracy, he has found good reason to anchor his claims. 

I have been in the U.S for barely 48 hours preparing to cover one of the most unusual elections in world history and already one thing has shocked me the most: the fear that the U.S could be plunged into post election violence that could tear this great country apart.

And this fear is so real, many American’s and most definitely foreign journalists some of whom I am travelling with are already taking precautions.

Don’t take my word for it; listen to the U.S state department Media Relations officer, Mark V. Zimmer. I and 24 other foreign journalists sat in the press briefing room at the Foreign Press Center in Washington DC and were shocked to hear the admission. “People are scared” he said. “There is the potential for violence” he continued. Then finally the big one; “We hope for the best, we prepare for the worst”.

It is sad to say but the facts so far make Mark’s comments more chilling, after all it was just a couple of weeks ago that the North Carolina Republican Office was torched by a firebomb, all in the name of an election. Is this the United States of America or a third world country?

Even worse are the quotes I heard from some Trump supporters on CNN. One supporter told the Out-front News Programme that “there will be civil war”. Another said “Hilary needs to be taken out. If she gets elected I will do anything in my power to take her out”.

“Civil war!!!?” “Take her out!!!?”. Again I ask, is this the same America of Abraham Lincoln?

And it is not just the rhetoric that is setting America back, its electoral system too.   The PEW Research Centre estimates that approximately 24 million—one of every eight—voter registrations in the United States are no longer valid or are significantly inaccurate.

This next research results will resonate in Ghana. That more than 1.8 million deceased individuals are listed as voters and approximately 2.75 million people have registrations in more than one state.

With all these statistics many American experts insist it is impossible to rig the American elections. Well, that may be true but why create the opportunity to rig the polls in the first place, why can’t the Americans delete the names of the dead people and flush out those double registrants on the voters roll.

At least Ghana had done all the above although it is still not perfect. The effort has been made and our voter roll is better for it. So why can’t America?

I will cover the election but like most of my colleagues I shall take precautions. The next time you think to yourself, that Ghana has nothing to teach America in democratic electoral politics, stop and remember the word, Trump.


Evans Mensah is participating in a 2016 U.S General Elections Embed program administered by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and sponsored by the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Press Centers and U.S. Embassy Posts.