Polls Close, But Voting May Continue Till Dawn

Voters in queue in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County

By Leroy M. Sonpon, III and Joaquin M. Sendolo

Hundreds in Buchanan were still voting despite the formal closure of polling at 6 pm last night.

Up to press time at 10 pm yesterday, voters were in queues at six precincts, namely Buchanan Playground, Parish Day, County Administrative Building, ACFI, Pillar of Fire and Bassa High School.

Presiding Officers announced the formal closure and assigned political party observers to stand behind the last persons in their respective queues until those persons cast their votes and the precincts would then close their respective doors.

“Polling is officially closed for only those who are not in the queue, but those on the queue will cast their ballots until midnight or dawn or the next day,” Presiding Officer Prince Davis said.

Poll workers resorted to makeshift lamps to continue working after dark on election day.

Election Coordinating Committee (ECC) and Liberia Elections Observation Network (LEON) observers told the Daily Observer that it was the lack of information to the voters on where to go to cast their votes that were responsible for the late polls.

Meanwhile, it is reported that in Montserrado County hundreds of voters woke up as early as 5 a.m to queue at most of the polling places in Gardnersville, Barnersville and some parts of Paynesville.

The sun welcomed the voters; even a little rain couldn’t dampen the mood of the voters to join the process to cast their ballots.

Many women, including the elderly, were at the front of the queues in “enthusiastic moods” to exercise their franchise. The turnout seemed to outpace the 2011 elections. Besides, marketplaces, stores, and shops closed for the day; and the streets were virtually empty.

“Since morning, there has been absolutely no violence or quarrels, and I hope it continues like this,” one of the five officers assigned to the Lombardia Precinct Center said.

“So far, the distinction of voters to vote at a particular polling center is the only stressful thing we are experiencing. Hopefully, before noon, this headache will be over,” an Observer, who begged for anonymity, said.

Some of the factors which led to the high voter turnout were media publicity about this being the first transitional election since 1943, civic education, and the weather – it was a bright, dry, sunny day across much of the country.

By October 25, one of the 20 presidential candidates will be announced as the 25th President of Liberia, if a candidate accrues 50%+1 votes. A runoff will occur if no candidate obtains 50 +1 votes, the NEC announced.

Also, on October 25, 73 Representatives will be announced, either newly elected or reelected to make the 54th Legislature. The tenure for president and representative is six years apiece.

Meanwhile, in Ganta, Nimba County the voting yesterday went beyond the 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. working schedule set by the National Elections Commission (NEC).

Registered voters in Ganta in single file, ready to cast their votes

Up to 7 p.m., hundreds of people were still in long queues at various centers in Ganta, Saclepea, Gbah in electoral District 2, Saclepea in district 7 and Karnplay in District 3.

Voters who cast their ballots told the Daily Observer that the fault came from poll workers as they tended to be very slow in processing them to cast their votes.

“The people are not competent to do the work, and I believe they got them not through merit, but on the basis of connection. Some of them are not able to check voters according to the alphabetical arrangement,” said Josephus at the Liberty School polling center.

Unlike 2011 election that the process was fast and poll workers got through on time, the 2017 election was marred by sluggishness on the part of NEC poll workers that one of them had to be sent home at the Liberty School polling center.

According to eye-witnesses, the worker not identified damaged most of the ballot papers and other essential documents she was recording in.

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I am a Liberian journalist, born November 7 and hailed from the Southeast and of the kru tribe. I began contributing to the Daily Observer 2008 and was fully employed in 2012. I am the 3rd of eight children and named after my great grandfather. Am happily married with three children (girls). I am a full member of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) and also the Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL) and the Legislative Press Pool (LEGISPOL). I can be contacted through email: lmsonpon@gmail.com or cell number/WhatsApp: (+231) 0886585875 or Facebook.


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