The Liberia Crusaders for Peace (LCP) Monday held a one-day Peaceful Election and Voters Education Training Workshop with a call to its Election Observers, County Coordinators, Election monitors and Communicators to carefully design new messages for voters' education so as to reduce the huge quantity of invalid votes experienced during the first round of voting.
At the training workshop held at the Lutheran Compound, LCP Executive Director, Ambassador Juli Endee, urged participants to take the lessons learnt from the first round of elections seriously and design new messages that are simple, clear and precise that will encourage voters to go to polling centers that they voted in the first round of elections and be patient to vote.
"You should also educate them to be violent free during this second round of election because Liberia is the only country we have, and we should talk peace, act peace because peace is what you talk and what you do", Amb. Endee said.
"The more than 84,000 invalid votes were too huge, this means that we must intensify our voters education process in a simple and clear terms, telling the voters to only mark in the box provided and not burst another candidate's eyes because you do not like him or her, as this amounts to invalid vote".
Amb. Endee also charged those in control of the electoral process and all participants including supporters of candidates to ensure that the election is free and transparent and violent free, adding," the election will be trouble free if Liberians avoid all forms of cheating and be honest". She lauded Cater Center, USAID and the American and the Swedish Government among others for their support to the Liberia Crusaders for Peace to conduct voters' education monitor and observe the election process.
Also, renowned Liberian educator, Dr. Khalipha Bility called on all Liberians to be peaceful but very careful and conscious in their decision to elect one who leads Liberia during this run-off election. He said electing the president of Liberia should not be hitched on family relations or friendship, but should be based on one who has the capacity and capability to ably lead the Liberian people.
Vice chair of the National Traditional Council of Chiefs and Elders of Liberia, Madame Seeta Saah, shared her experience during the first round elections, terming it as disappointing. She said in Lofa County where she voted, people were seen openly campaigning on elections day while members of political parties were observed dishing out money to voters to vote for their respective candidates.
Madame Seeta Saah described these acts as unacceptable and inimical to the true intent of the elections and called on the National Elections Commissions to establish strong monitoring mechanism that will prevent such practices in the run-off election.
During the training workshop attended by more than three hundred LCP County Coordinators, Elections Observers and Voters educators from the fifteen counties, the participants explained their observations during the first round elections and made a number of recommendations aimed at improving the run-off election.
They said some NEC workers at the various polling centers across Liberia especially in Nimba County openly demonstrated their support and interest in some candidates for wish some coordinators deliberately opened some of the precincts and polling centers very late, having observed that the particular locality was a stronghold of a particular candidate the assigned NEC coordinator does not favor.
They observed that some eligible voters did not cast their votes due to the inability of NEC workers at the polling centers to identify their numbers and pictures on the voters roll, thus shuttling them from one polling center to the other, having stood in long queues for hours, which eventually discouraged some voters. They said people were seen openly campaigning on elections day while members of political parties were observed dishing out money to voters to vote for their respective candidates.
The participants also observed that there was not sufficient civic voters' education particularly in the various local languages at the various community radio stations to educate the old and elderly people who could read and write how to cast their votes, which contributed to the huge quantity of invalid votes.
They further attributed the 84,000 invalid votes to the marking of voters' fingers with the indelible ink before casting their ballots instead of marking the finger after casting vote.
Meanwhile, Crusaders for Peace election observers, county coordinators, voters' educators and communicators are recommending to NEC to improve conditions explained above, increase civic voters education and provide more training for pool workers before the run-off election on November 7.