26 June 2013

Liberia: NEC to Update Voting Cards

The National Elections Commission has resolved to update Voter's Registration cards ahead of the mid-term Senatorial Election in 2014.The National Elections Commission electoral magistrate for upper Bong County Daniel Newland made the disclosure recently in an interview with reporters.

Mr. Newland said though the decision was hard to reach in the face of financial constraints, the NEC believes the regularization of voting cards will provide opportunities for those citizens, who did not attain the voting age of 18 in 2011 to participate in the electoral process this time around.

He said the exercise, which is expected to kickoff in November or December, will also afford those voters, who were trucked to various counties by politicians during previous elections to vote in their respective counties of origin.

Magistrate Newland added that the process of updating voter's cards will be conducted through mobile teams, calling on eligible voters to take advantage of the opportunity.

"You will have people moving around from one point to another doing the voter's registration exercise so it is important for people to take advantage of such opportunity that will be given them" , Newland urged. He said plans are underway by the NEC to discourage the trucking of registered voters by politicians in coming elections.

According to him, transporting people from one point to another to conduct voter's registration had led to poor turnout in runoff elections as many voters, who were trucked did not have the means to vote where they registered, adding that this time around, the NEC will keep a close watch to avoid a repeat.

In Bong County, people were trucked from their districts to other parts of the county to register with the aim of voting for those specific candidates, who sponsored their movement. A lot of incumbent lawmakers, who were financially capable, transported eligible voters from Monrovia to various counties to register in a specific electoral district.

However, it appears that the current NEC Chair Cllr. Jerome Kokoyah, himself a victim of trucking, may not want the practice to continue. Former Deputy Speaker Tokpah Mulbah narrowly defeated Kokoya in the 2011 elections in Bong County Electoral District One, something many believed was due to the number of people he personally transported from other districts.

Mulbah, who runs a commercial truck business, transported eligible voters to his district to boost his votes, after falling out of favor with many of the citizens there for what they called his failure to advocate for the development of the area.

Bong County Electoral District Two, which comprises Kpaii and Kokoyah District experienced heated campaign period when Mulbah lost control of Kokoyah District, home of NEC Chair Cllr. Kokoyah, who contested on the ticket of the governing Unity Party prior to his appointed by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

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