12 October 2017

Liberia: NEC Admits Flaws

As provisional results are filtering in from polling centers across the country following Tuesday's peaceful general and presidential elections, the chairman of National Elections Commission (NEC), Cllr. Jerome Korkoya, admitted flaws and other challenges in the process.

Cllr. Korkoyah admitted while addressing a press conference at the commission's headquarters in Monrovia on Tuesday that that voting process in Nimba County electoral district#4 was compromised due to disruption allegedly incited by a representative candidate on the ticket of the Coalition for Liberia's Progress (CLP), Rufus Zerlee.

According to him, this was as a result of the setting up of three polling places but was believed to be four, after the four polling places materials were given to the NEC supervisor, Prince Bollie.

The NEC chair added that the Commission has launched an investigation into saga and made a decision to quarantine the materials from the precinct and that polling would be rescheduled in this area shortly.

"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 if they are in the right place in the polling precinct.

"Affected voters assumed that because they registered in a particular room in a center, so they went to that particular room during voting."

"In many cases, your name will not be in there but in another room because the precinct where you registered will be spread out into various centers during elections, and your name may be in one of the centers within that precinct."

"The second issue," he said, "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."

On voters not finding their names on the register, the NEC chairman said any one legitimately registered with the commission, who had a valid voter card and was not disqualified should have been allowed to vote.

Meanwhile, the National Elections Commission says it would begin releasing preliminary results today October, 12, 2017 from the just ended elections.

Cllr. Korkoyah has however extended apology to the voters and blamed the issues squarely on poll workers.

"We call on all political parties and candidates as well as voters to wait patiently for their release. It is not expected that the National Elections Commission will be in the position to start to release provisional results today. We are hopeful by tomorrow we can start this process," Cllr. Korkoya told journalists at a news conference.

He reiterated that the NEC is the only body charged with the responsibility to announce official results of the just ended elections, thus, called on individual or individuals and institutions to avoid such responsibility assigned only to the NEC.

The NEC boss disclosed that results from the various polling centers are not been transported to the tally centers ready for aggregation, adding that the electoral process has not ended yet, though voting and counting have been completed.

"At the various polling places, counting continued throughout the night. Elections observers from national organizations and international community closely observed this process. Political parties' agents were also watching the process and scrutinizing all stages. The electoral process is not, however, over yet. Voting and counting have ended and results sheets posted at polling places. The results are not being transported to tally centers ready for aggregation," Cllr. Korkoya noted.

Results are expected from 5,390 polling units in 2,080 centers across the 15 political sub divisions of the country.

However, the chair was not clear as to how many people participated out of the 2.1 million voters registered for the election, but media reports said turnout was high even though there have been some challenges.

Many, who had spent hours on a particular queue, were directed to other voting points when it was their turn to vote, leaving them frustrated.

The National Elections Commission (NEC) said the exercise was generally successful, but some political parties have expressed reservations about the process.

The parties that expressed reservations included the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), whose presidential candidate is ex-football star George Weah.

Also raising an eyebrow is the Alternative National Congress (ANC) represented in the presidential elections by former Coca-Cola executive, Alexander Cummings.

Mr. Cummings said he was informed of voting hitches in several places that prevented Liberians from exercising their franchise.

He said in some counties, ballot papers arrived after 3 p.m. and many voters with valid voter cards were turned away for many reasons including their names not being on the voter register.

Speaking to reporters while monitoring the elections on Tuesday, John Mahama, the head of the ECOWAS Elections Observation Mission to Liberia, said there were some lapses mainly on the part of electoral officials.

Mr. Mahama, who toured polling stations in several counties, attributed the situation partly to late training of presiding and electoral officers.

But he lauded the National Elections Commission and the presiding officers for conducting the process peacefully and urged the electoral body to learn from these mistakes.

He said affected voters would be compensated with more time, and advised other aggrieved parties to file their complaints to the commission for a redress.


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