Korkoya’s U.S. Voter Status Confirmed by State of New Jersey

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In the face of National Elections Commission (NEC) chairman Counselor Jerome George Korkoya’s bold-faced challenge that anyone claiming that he is an American citizen should take him to court, a human rights lawyer in the United States has obtained an authentic public record document from the year 2008 showing that Korkoya did in fact register to vote in the State of New Jersey.

The document, obtained on April 17, 2017 through a Freedom of Information request under the State of New Jersey’s Open Public Records Act (OPRA), confirms that Jerome George Korkoya registered in that state as a member of the Democratic Party and voted on November 4, 2008 in the election that saw Democratic candidate Barack H. Obama emerge as President of the United States of America.

OPRA is a statute that guarantees that “government records shall be readily accessible for inspection, copying, or examination by the citizens of this State, with certain exceptions, for the protection of the public interest, and any limitations on the right of access… shall be construed in favor of the public’s right of access,” according to the Act, in its Legislative policy declaration. Under the statute, however, access must be processed via the Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

The FOI request was filed to the Division of Elections in the New Jersey Department of State by Frederic A. Jayweh of the Africa Center for Law and Human Rights, who wrote:

“We are writing to request the citizenship and voting records of Mr. Jerome George Korkoya.  We are humbly requesting: 1) Certificate of Naturalization of Mr. Jerome George Korkoya; 2) Voter Registration Card of Mr. Jerome George Korkoya; 3) And other Voting Records that your office has on Mr. Korkoya. We understand that Mr. Jerome George Korkoya voted in Willingboro City, New Jersey in 2008.  Thanks.”

Jayweh’s request was responded to by a staffer from the Division of Elections, who was only able to provide a document titled, ‘Voter Profile’, regarding Korkoya. The document is linked below.

State of New Jersey Voter Record (2008) on Jerome George Korkoya

The Division of Elections staffer also informed Jayweh that “the other records requested are not maintained in this office.  You will need to reach out to the [Burlington] County Superintendent of Elections.”

While the Division of Elections could not confirm Korkoya’s citizenship status as per Jayweh’s request, the New Jersey Department of State website requires that: “To register to vote in New Jersey you must be: A United States citizen; I am at least 17 years old, and understand that I may not vote until reaching the age of 18; A resident of the county for 30 days before the election; and You are NOT currently serving a sentence, probation or parole because of a felony conviction.”

Though the New Jersey Division of Elections was not able to confirm Korkoya’s U.S. citizenship, the State’s website says only U.S. citizens, inter alia, are eligible to vote

The Jerome George Korkoya who voted in the 2008 US elections is believed to be the same Jerome George Korkoya, who now heads Liberia’s Elections Commission, a position which, according to the Liberian Constitution, he should be ineligible to hold.

While Cllr. Korkoya insists that the US citizenship allegations are nothing but a ‘smear campaign’ against him, several other persons including a number of civil society organizations and rights activists, among them Cllr. Tiawan S. Gongloe, said it would be better for Cllr. Korkoya to resign his post if it is true he holds foreign citizenship.  Gongloe also noted that the NEC chair would be subject to perjury proceedings if it was confirmed that he holds foreign citizenship.

A few weeks ago, the Daily Observer inquired at the U.S. State Department, through the American Embassy in Monrovia, as to whether the Liberian government could request immigration status on persons of interest who have lived in the United States and are seeking political office (via appointment or election).  The Embassy Public Diplomacy Director responded to our request, saying that the US government is restricted from disclosing such information due to privacy laws.

It is important to note that, although the New Jersey Department of State did not disclose Korkoya’s immigration status, per Jayweh’s request, the fact can be determined directly from the State’s voter eligibility requirements.

“Under Liberian laws, it is wrong for any Liberian to hold passports of two different countries, because this country does not allow dual citizenship,” Nimba County Senator Prince Johnson also said.

Meanwhile, opposition party, National Democratic Coalition (NDC), promised to institute legal action against Korkoya before the conduct of the October elections.

On a recent phone in radio show, Cllr. Korkoya challenged anyone who has valid evidence that he holds a US passport to take him to court. “One thing the detractors need to understand is that social media is not the court or any legal instrument to declare me guilty of any wrongdoing. I am a Liberian citizen and that is all I have to say,” he declared.

The Liberian Senate, which confirmed Korkoya as NEC chair, has failed to address the matter.  Instead, they have reneged on their responsibility to correct the glaring mistake, by suggesting that the public take up the matter with Korkoya in court.

15 COMMENTS

  1. What is mind-boggling is not only the President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf appointing an alien to head the NEC, but indeed, also her silence amid the statutory and constitutional fact and legalty that she has taken an oath of office of the presidency to uphold and protect the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia. With all these incompetent, corrupt, and bad governance on the part of THIS REGIME, Joseph Boakai´s PR man Bai Gbala wants to tell us about “requisite experience” and wants the Liberian people to give a third term to THIS ROTTEN AND VERY WICKED REGIME of the Unity Party headed By Joseph Boakai.

    So, if Private citizens do not challenge such gross violation of the Constitution on the part of Jerome Korkoyah NEC Chairman or any other appointee of THIS REGIME, according to the Unity Party government, the constitution becomes “INAPPLICABLE” to Jerome Korkoya! And it is this type of disgraceful and irresponsible political leadership Ba Gbala believes has the “requisite experience” to run a government.

    • We just got information that the Jerome Kokoyah information in New Jersey is actually for a 29 year man old male named Jerome G. Korkoryah II.

  2. Free thing doesn’t have value that exactly EJS is doing. The constitution was relaxed to accommodate Ellen and others to participate in elections and if she had played by the rules,she couldn’t have looked down on our constitution. Thank God our ppl are speaking up no longer scared that’s the beauty of democracy.

  3. The name, date of birth, and social security number have to match to be sure it is the same person. Have you considered that the voter’s registration could be for his son or relative with the same name?

  4. He may had voted in 2008 election and may had been a US citizen. But what if he gave up his citizenship afterward? That means he could be right that he is not a citizen. The voting record from 2008 is 9 years old a lot could had happened within that time.

  5. Mr. Kandajaba Zoebohn Zoedjallah,
    Why taken Hon. Bai M. Gbala to task as if he is the one running for President? If Bai Gbala is
    advocating for H.E. Joseph N. Boakai for President, he is entitled to his choice as an individual.
    You have a choice too, don’t you? Should people take to task simply because of your choice?
    You have been in the country for all these years. You know what is obtained with President
    Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. You are not talking about that until Hon. Bai M. Gbala’s choice of who to
    be President? Is Bai Gbala’s only vote to determine who is to be the President of Liberia. He
    just has one vote.

    This mentality of taking to task a message bearer is what destroyed Liberia today almost to
    beyond repair. Oh! That Krahn man going there. But in actual fact, that Krahn man was not
    Samuel Kanyon Doe nor did that Krahn mna ever shared Doe’s pay check any time. That is
    what got so many blood stained hands today after the war.

  6. P. Allison Tarlue, Sr. May 11, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    Mr. Kandajaba Zoebohn Zoedjallah,
    Why taken Hon. Bai M. Gbala to task as if he is the one running for President? If Bai Gbala is
    advocating for H.E. Joseph N. Boakai for President, he is entitled to his choice as an individual.
    You have a choice too, don’t you? Should people take to task simply because of your choice?
    You have been in the country for all these years. You know what is obtained with President
    Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. You are not talking about that until Hon. Bai M. Gbala’s choice of who to
    be President? Is Bai Gbala’s only vote to determine who is to be the President of Liberia. He
    just has one vote.

    This mentality of taking to task a message bearer is what destroyed Liberia today almost to
    beyond repair. Oh! That Krahn man going there. But in actual fact, that Krahn man was not
    Samuel Kanyon Doe nor did that Krahn mna ever shared Doe’s pay check any time. That is
    what got so many blood stained hands today after the war.

    If Bai M. Gbala’s choice is Vice President Joseph N. Boakai is not wrong at all. That is Liberian
    system succession to power. Do you think Joseph Boakai agrees with everything President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf did as President? I don’t think so. For example, every international meeting and
    conferences are attended by President Sirleaf. I don’t think she consult with Vice President
    Joe Boakai on most or all her laws she passed, especially the Code of Conduct that awardly
    influenced the Judicial Branch to endorse.

    Indeed, if Hon. Bai M. Gbala wants Joe Boakai to be President of Liberia, it is because he has
    seen and knows all the loopholes of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s governance and he is the only who
    correct them all because he too was victim of them.

  7. Nobody cares. The entire senate would jump to get US citizenship. Travelling and living outside your country is not a bad thing. In fact, I say we can learn a lot and bring it to our country. The people who say they are Liberians only are doing worse things than those that left.

  8. Selective application and enforcement of the law makes it useless: This is a moot point because it is the same as Mr. Robert Sirleaf during past senatorial election. Since the same law was not applied and enforced then a precedent was set… And so with many others. Laws are suppose to be equally applied and not selectively. Thus, if you did not enforced it then, you cannot enforce it now. What is wrong with you people? Please exercise some critical thinking. The horse has left the gate already.

  9. The President is silent and the Senate is silent because no one cares. This is a non-issue. When will these people move on to discussing the real issues coming up in these elections? Frederic Jayweh seems to have a lot of spare time on his hands. Can he also file a FOI request on the other alleged US citizens in the Liberian government?

  10. How will Liberia ever develop when our outdated constitution ostracizes professional Liberians with foreign citizenship living in diaspora from contributing to the rebuilding of Liberia? Too many times this selective political game of foreign citizenship entrapment is only enforced to disqualify certain appointed or elected officials who pose a threat or who are disliked for other reasons.

    We have seen this game played before during Dr. Elizabeth Davis Russell’s Senate hearing. A highly qualified University Administrator was denied Minister of Education post just because she honestly disclosed her American citizenship. To be fair, let’s check every presidential candidate, current elected officials, or appointed Liberian Government officials’ foreign voting records and foreign citizenships that have lived abroad. Let’s see how many will be in violation of our constitution non-dual citizenship law.

    The brain-drain Liberia experienced during its turbulent years robbed the country of many professionals. Western nations are benefitting tremendously from the vast exodus of professional manpower from countries where there are conflicts. The Middle East and Africa have lost some of their best educators, doctors, educators, engineers, lawyers, scientists, entrepreneurs, agriculturists, and other blue collar workers to the West during the time of conflicts. Many citizens from these parts of the world including many from Liberia over the years take on foreign citizenships whenever conflicts last for protracted periods.

    Why not change these outdated laws: citizenship laws, presidential and legislative term limits laws. That opportunity was squandered. Instead, we kept intact outdated racist law prohibiting people of non-negro descent from becoming Liberian citizens (even if they were born in Liberia). This outdated foreign citizenship clause prohibits many Liberians, who were forced to leave Liberia during Liberia’s conflict, from obtaining dual citizenships.

    If we asked one person, NEC Chairman Jerome George Korkoya, to obey our outdated constitution, then it is only fair that it applies to everyone regardless of political affiliation, ethnic background, gender or religion.

    • That’s just the fact my dear brother Alpha Conneh.
      These laws tend to stop potential people from contributing immensely to our already backward society.
      What a sorrowful, old fashioned set of people I see in this modern age.
      We really have long way to go.
      See the kinda educational system we have in our country, tell me who can easily still in Liberia without making their way out to the western world and bring change or make a great impact on the Liberian society?
      Even your own president, if she had not come to the US and have the opportunity to attend the great Harvard university, how she could have been well known and respected all over the world?
      You think good things can just come about by sitting behind one closed door country and rise to the top?
      People have to change that mentality.
      Try to read on the the top 10 most educated presidents of Africa and see if they didn’t have to leave their African countries and get prepared in western society.
      Wish your luck with your many constitutional rights and ideas and see if those laws will take you alone somewhere.

  11. 2008 elections? Do you have proof of any voting more recent than nearly 10 years ago? ? Is it not possible he has dropped his citizenship in order to return to work in Liberian gvt?

    Liberians in the diaspora have accepted citizenship of other nations out of necessity! Why is this point lost on so many?

    As Liberia continues to progress, Many from the diaspora will return home, and many will rescind their secondary citizenship.

    Is that the situation here? I do not know. I don’t know this man from Adam in order to reach any conclusion. But basing an entire indictment against this man on a FLAWED argument, is mind boggling to me. I care about facts, and facts only. The information being provided as evidence, does not in anyway prove your argument. The idea that the president and NEC should stop their daily proceedings and react to an allegation with little weight…just no.

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