11 October 2017

West Africa: ANC, CDC, Ecowas Identify Flaws in Liberia's 2017 Electoral Process

Photo: Boakai Fofana/AllAfrica
A worker of the National Elections Commission sits at the entrance of a polling precinct.

Monrovia — Elections have ended but several registered voters were left disenfranchised and some political parties like the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and the Alternative National Congress are unhappy with the electoral process.

Voters appeared to be eager vote; they started trooping various polling centers as early as 4:00 AM Tuesday morning, hoping to be among some of the first cast their votes.

There was a sense of anxiety amongst voters as they queued outside various polling centers awaiting the commencement of polls.

However, it turned out to be a rather disappointing situation - the names of some registered voters could not be found in the voters roll.

This situation was the same at various polling centers across the country.

The ANC's Observation

The ANC led by the Alexander Cummings and Jeremiah Sulunteh said they were made aware of voting irregularities throughout the country, preventing Liberians from exercising their right to vote.

The ANC mentioned missing and incomplete presidential ballot books in Montserrado County, receiving presidential voting ballots after 3pm in Sinoe and Grand Gedeh Counties, voters with valid voter registration cards being turned away because of numerous reasons including name not being on the voters' roll in Montserrado, Bong, Grand Gedeh, Margibi, Sinoe, and Grand Bassa Counties.

CDC Cries Foul

Shortly after the closure of polls Tuesday evening, the CDC called a press conference at its headquarters in Monrovia where the National Chairman, Nathaniel McGill, raised red flag on the electoral process.

Mr. McGill said the process was mismanaged by the poll workers from the NEC, noting that they were not professional.

The said there were forms of intimidation and many voters were denied their rights to vote by polling staffs.

"It was a form of intimidation because many people were denied from voting due to the time," he said.

He continued, "I don't get this, I wonder if the poll workers were trained or maybe they did it for some reasons best known to them," the CDC chairman.

McGill said it was unnecessary for voters to be turned away and denied their right to vote.

"I think people shouldn't be denied in a democratic process; it is the right of all Liberians to vote no matter what," he added.

He, however, said the CDC is not troubled by the irregularities in the process.

"We are not troubled by what is going on. We call on all of our partisans to be calm and keep observing the process," he said.

Counting and Voting

Polls were closed at some centers across the country and counting was ongoing but at other centers voting was still ongoing with hundreds of registered voters standing in long queues.

Even after the closure of polls, voting continued at the Unification Town Hall at the Fair Ground in Grand Bassa County.

The Electoral supervisors at the Fair Ground in Bassa say the situation is due to disarrangement of voters ID in the voters roll which has made it difficult for poll workers to identify the precincts people with valid voters IDs are to vote.

Reports gathered by FrontPageAfrica say some voters at Don Bosco on 8th Street, Sinkor, Barns Foundation School in Lakpazee Community were still in queues when the centers were closed by poll workers.

Ben Mulbah told FrontPageAfrica that he had to wait a while to allow the crowd to reduce before voting but to his surprise, he was still on the line when time elapsed and process was cut off.

"I am feeling too bad because I never voted; I came this morning but the line was too ling that I couldn't vote but when I came back I still met a long line that could not still permit to vote. I am hurt, I am disappointed and i am feeling bad, but I can't blame that on NEC," he lamented.

Kebbeh Morris is another victim who said she could not vote because the time caught up with her, "I am going home, I don't have anything to lose here, after all, when those guys win it's their families that will enjoy not me," she said.

Matadi Baptist School is another polling center that left voters in queues and closed the process. Joseph Menguye, an elderly man who was disenfranchised said he blames the polling staffs for not being effective and efficient on the job.

"We came but we were doing our own thing and no body to help us in the process, I came ever since but I was on the wrong line and I reached to vote, the poll workers told me I should go on the other line and that line was too log for me; we were about 30 persons that never voted because of that," he said.

Most registered voters could not vote because their names and voter ID numbers could be found in the voters roll and index respectively.

Over 50 registered voters at the New Jerusalem Polling Center in Pipeline Community, District #3, Paynesville were sent home when polls officially closed.

Denied in Bong, Too

A Lot of voters at the David Faijue School Polling Station in Bong County who had been in line since 5:00 am Tuesday were unable to vote because their names are not on the roll - an incident that earlier led to a standoff when angry voters blocked the main roads and burned tires.

In Gbartala, Yellequelleh District in the county, voting came at a standstill after several persons, were denied the chance to exercise their franchise though they had valid voter's ID cards simply because their names and ID numbers could not be found in the voters roll.

Following their denial, the youths set up tires in the middle of the Gbartala-Monrovia Highway, which caused serious traffic snarl.

The angry voters say they want the National Elections Commission (NEC) allow them vote because they have legitimate voter cards.

ECOWAS Observation

The head of the Ecowas Elections Observers Mission to Liberia, former Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama said the elections was marred with several lapses mainly on the part of election workers.

Mr. Mahama who is toured polling stations in several counties told reporters the electoral process faced several challenges including the late start of polls, the late arrival of polling materials in remote areas of the country and several complaints from voters over the absence of their names from the voters' roster.

He noted that the late training of presiding and electoral officers is one of the causes of the poor performance of poll workers, especially their inability to identify the names of voters on the roster.

He, however, praised the National Elections Commission and the presiding officers for conducting the process and urged the NEC to learn from its mistakes.

Korkoya's Response

The chairman of the NEC, Cllr. Jerome Korkoya during a press conference held Tuesday afternoon in Monrovia said there was nothing wrong with the voter register.

"Let me state there is nothing wrong with the voter register and there are a couple of reasons for these incidents.

"One of the issues was caused by voters joining the queue without consulting the queue controller and going straight to a polling place without checking they are in the right place in the polling precinct."

"A second issue was in cases where a voter is registered twice."

"These individuals are registered at the last place of registration in line with our policy. You will not be at the original place."

More on This

Voting and Counting Going On Simultaneously in Liberia

Polls are closed at some centers across Liberia while other centers are still overcrowded with many registered voters… Read more »

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