An acute concoction of constraints delayed the opening of the voter registration process in Nimba County yesterday, which resulted in several centers opening very late. From communication and awareness, to logistical to literacy issues among registration officers, would-be voters expressed concern for the credibility of the process.
According to election supervisors, the National Elections Commission (NEC) hired two cars to be used by five supervisors to deploy them and distribute registration materials to various centers in Ganta; however, the two cars could not get the materials distributed on time.
Some of the supervisors said that the materials arrived so late from Sanniquellie, they were unable to set up the equipment before 8am.
Some of the centers, including the Ganta Rehab, Liberty Christian School as well as Yini High School campus, were completely empty by 11am, while some centers started the process at 10am.
“We are still waiting for the materials to begin,” said a registrar at the Ganta Rehab Center.
The election supervisors revealed that across Nimba, the materials for Buutuo arrived in Bahn by midnight and the deployment of staff and materials began early in the morning on Wednesday, February 1.
In Sanniquellie, the process was slow, with deployment of workers and materials continuing on the first day, they said, adding that in the Lower Nimba belt, Saclepea started the registration early, “but people raised conern on the slow pace of the process.”
Owing to the lack of logistics, the head of Ganta Christian Community School, Rev. John Baryorgar, was seen assisting with the transportation of materials in his car to some of the centers.
“We are assisting the workers to take the materials to the registration center, because of limited logistics. So this is my own way of contributing to the process,” he said.
“One of the problems people are facing is that we didn’t take to the airwaves and the voters do not know the various centers. The awareness process was not enough,” he said.
In one of the centers in Ganta, the process of obtaining a voter card was very slow, causing disappointment among voters.
“The process is too slow and it is taking me about 30 minutes to get my card,” said a voter only identified as Gbar at the Pearson Campus. “The workers do not even know how to spell the name ‘Prince’.
“They asked me to spell my name… suppose I could not read or write, then my name was going to be misspelled.”
This reporter observed four workers at each of the centers, including the registrar, photographer and two clerks, but there was no uniformed officer assigned to maintain law and order, in case of any trouble.
“How will they distinguish non–Liberian from Liberian, when we are not seeing any immigration personnel here?” a lady inquired.
Effort to get the Election Magistrate for Upper Nimba, Mr. Prince Monmiah, to comment did not materialize, as his phone rang endlessly.
Meanwhile, it was said that Upper Nimba had about 148 centers, with 98 in Lower Nimba, but these numbers are yet to be comfirmed.