11 October 2017

Liberia: Frustration Greets Massive Turnout

Liberia's presidential and representatives elections on Tuesday, 10 October witnessed massive turnout of hundreds of young and old electorate at many centers visited by this paper, though some voters expressed frustrations over being pulled about in search of their rightful polling room.

In communities visited so far on the Bushrod Island, suburb of Monrovia, voting was observed to be peaceful, except that there were complaints by voters that National Elections Commission (NEC) workers did not open some polling places on time.

Some polling centers were said to have opened by 9am and 10am in parts of Doe Community and Clara Town, thus resulting to difficulties in cutting down long queue up to the evening hours for a voting process that was due to have closed by 6pm.

There were also concerns that the work was going on slowly, but a lot of voters were seen exercising patience to vote.

NEC workers had an issue of asking some potential electorate to check from one polling place to another, a condition some voters would almost not want to bear after standing in long queues and visiting few places without being identified immediately at places they say they had registered.

Due to the slow pace of the voting process on Tuesday, a middle age voter at the Samuel K. Doe Community School on Bushrod Island Mr. Patrick Toee who claimed to have joined the queue by 5:55am complained that he had not voted yet during an interview conducted 1pm.

"The people [that are] heading this voting process, they came late because the people said that the area supposed to be opened 8 o'clock," he said, though he assured that he would exercise patience to vote before leaving.

Another voter Mr. Robert T. Swen complained that pregnant women, baby mothers and physically challenged people were not being allegedly treated fairly, claiming that they were not being given priority.

Following some intervention, NEC workers at the center however took in some pregnant women that were identified in queue. A polling officer at the school, Mr. Benyan S. Quieh said they opened the center soon, but materials arrived late. He however said there were plans to consider those that would be in the queue when closing time reaches at 6pm.

There were others that expressed happiness over the smooth conduct of the process. At the Royal Foundation Day - Care and Primary School in Clara Town, two elderly women interviewed Mariamu Kamara and Issata Kiazulu and Samuel Mohammed and Mr. Sheriff said the process was fine and there was fighting.

Mr. Sheriff particularly expressed hope that the election process would continue peacefully, urging young people to act orderly so that Liberians can move on with their lives after the polls.

Though not in huge numbers, police, immigration and officers from the Drugs Enforcement Agency were seen at polling centers in communities visited.

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