ECC Wants Supreme Court Clarify Mandate to NEC

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ECC head, Oscar Bloh calls on NEC to share electronic voter list with observer group

The Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) has called on the Supreme Court of Liberia to clarify some of the directives to the National Elections Commission (NEC) as contained in its Thursday, December 7 opinion.

According to the ECC, the call is an effort to help the NEC to properly execute the high court’s mandate and also for the public to understand the NEC’s scope of operation.

In its ruling for a runoff rather than a rerun as prayed for by Liberty Party (LP) and Unity Party (UP) versus the NEC, the Court’s ruling seemed to have finally put the political impasse (that engulfed the country since the polls) to rest. However, according to the ECC, the mandate from the ruling is creating more questions.

In a statement issued in Monrovia yesterday, the ECC raised questions over the vagueness of some of the directives from the high court—highlighting the implications of some of the directives contained in the modification of the Court’s opinion in affirming the decision of the Board of Commissioners.

Some of the “vague mandates” that are being questioned include the cleaning of the Final Registration Roll (FRR) and for the NEC to bar from voting anyone who may have a voter card but whose name is not in the FRR, among others.

ECC Chairman Oscar Bloh said the High Court’s mandate for the NEC to clean the FRR in compliance with the provision of the law, is unclear. “It is unclear what ‘cleaning up the FFR’ means and we want to call on the Supreme Court to provide clarity on what it means,” he said.

Bloh also indicated that the directive is also unclear as to who is responsible to certify that the cleaning up of the FRR is in compliance with the law and that it is in a satisfactory condition to proceed with the conduct of the second round.

He called on the Court to release the full opinion of the case in order to provide clarity on the mandate to the NEC as contained in the judgment.

“The Elections Commission is under obligation to inform the public on the scale of the problem and the specific issues on the FRR that it intends to address. The public needs to know how big or small the problem with the FRR is in order to commensurate with the timeframe that will be set for such a process,” he said.

With the mandate for NEC to prohibit anyone whose name is not found on the FRR from voting, Bloh noted that this too is ambiguous in that it is not clear what the scope of the problems surrounding the FRR are. The enforcement of this mandate, he said, would mean that citizens with valid voter cards who are eligible to vote will be disenfranchised thereby infringing on their Constitutional Rights in keeping with Liberian laws and the doctrine of Universal Suffrage.

However, the above directive from the Supreme Court appears to violate two legal provisions of Liberian law: Article 77 (b) of the Constitution and Section 5.1 of the New Elections Law.

Article 77 (b) of the Constitution says: “Every Liberian citizen not less than 18 years of age shall have the right to be registered as a voter and to vote in public elections and referenda.”

Section 5.1 of the New Elections Law says: “Except one who has been judicially declared to be incompetent or of unsound mind, or who has been barred from voting as a result of his or her conviction and imprisonment for an infamous crime which disenfranchised him or her as a voter and has not been restored to full citizenship, a Liberian citizen who has attained the age of 18 years or above with a valid registration card may vote at any election in the voting precinct of the electoral district for which he or she is registered.”

However, Mr. Bloh said the ECC is of the view that citizens with valid voter cards who wish to vote should not be punished for the negligence and lapses of the NEC. “Because we do not know the scale of the problem (the number of names missing from or duplicated on the FRR), no one knows how disenfranchised citizens would react on the day of the election if they are not allowed to vote.”

“Probably, this number would be too huge and will cause another problem so we need to start determining to what extent people will be affected by this decision. The NEC made her blunders and the Liberian people are going to suffer for nothing if this is enforced,” he said.

Though the High Court mandated the NEC to schedule the run-off election in accordance with the Constitution and the New Election Law, in keeping with Article 83 b and c, the ECC calls on the NEC to provide a clear timeline on how and when the mandate of the Supreme Court will be implemented in order to set the date for the run-off.

In its opinion summary, the Supreme Court acknowledged that there were isolated incidents of violations associated with the polls but that the evidence provided by the parties was not within the threshold or magnitude to substantially impact on the results to have a re-run. But Mr. Bloh said the Court; however, fell short of defining what constitutes “magnitude of fraud” that would warrant a re-run of an election.

He called on the NEC to demonstrate transparency in its deeds, given the fact that a credible FRR contributes to credible elections. “We want the NEC to demonstrate transparency at every stage of the process in cleaning the FRR.”

The ECC chairman said in order to build public confidence in the electoral process, the NEC should identify, in consultations with the contending parties, an independent body to certify that the FRR has been cleaned. “The ECC is of the view that the IT experts brought in by ECOWAS to assess the NEC’s database can play a meaningful role in this direction,” he said.

Bloh wants the contending parties to engage at every stage of the planning process leading to major decisions, including the setting of the runoff election date, cleaning of the FRR and the conduct of other activities.

In the recruitment of poll watchers for the runoff, he told political parties that poll agents to be recruited should be registered voters in the polling places in which they will vote—as this is in fulfillment of one of the mandates of the Supreme Court.

7 COMMENTS

  1. The Supreme court of Liberians not a school house. It interprets finally. not teach finals. Final means End (Finished). Those running off are at the Nation’s legislative branch. Prepare to vote or abstain in peace. God will send the time for your freedom of choice on time, if you do not have it yet. Do not answer this box.
    Gone to Jesus time.

  2. ECC – on behalf of the Supreme Court, cleaning of the voter rows means eradicating duplicate records.
    Tell your database folks to do the following:
    SELECT voter_id, station_id, vote_year
    FROM main_voter_table t1
    WHERE EXISTS (SELECT 1 from main_voter_table t2 Where
    t1.station_id = t2.station_id
    AND t1.vote_year = t2.vote_year
    AND t1.RowId t2.RowId)
    After investigating the above result, ask all with the double records to show reason why.
    The second problem is the ballot papers – solution.
    Inspect the ballot papers with the parties involved (UP & CDC) – random inspection.
    This is done to make sure all the ballot papers are what they supposed to be.

    • Here is the code again – you can re-write this code for any database management system:

      SELECT voter_id, station_id, vote_year
      FROM main_voter_table t1
      WHERE EXISTS (SELECT 1 from main_voter_table t2 Where
      t1.station_id = t2.station_id
      AND t1.vote_year = t2.vote_year
      AND t1.RowId t2.RowId)

  3. The last line of the code should be:
    AND t1.RowId less than greater than t2.RowId)

    The less than and greater than symbols are not being display above.

  4. We say thanks to Chairman Oscar Bloh for raising a vital point. However, why wait for another Supreme Court intervention, whereas ECC or the Fourth Estate can directly ask NEC; 1), whether it understood the Supreme Court’s mandate; 2), when it would be implemented? We clearly remember the deaf ears given by NEC – before October 10 – to make public the FRR despite appeals from NDI, Carter Center, Daily Observer, Writer & Journalist Mr. H.T John, etc., and pray that scenario isn’t being repeated.

    For one thing, that reluctance is one of the “irregularities” which gave ammunition to the losing cause of LP’s Counselor Brumskine, who had promised the elderly in Liberia Social Security benefits from Roman god Jupiter sitting atop Mount Olympus. For another, that “reluctance” caused EJS to be unfairly blamed because she stood by Chairman Korkoya. Well, the Krios, in Freetown, say “If you yam white, cover am”. In this context, it suggests the support of the president must not be misused by malice towards genuine calls (of less powerful) to do the right thing.

    Everything shouldn’t be a tug – of – war as if the elections were forced upon us, rather than the constitutional scheduled time. Let’s learn a little sense of urgency. Some unfortunate folks can’t hardly find rice and palm oil while many of the procrastinating elites dine on baked or roasted kuta fish with Uncle Ben’s rice: Cut the crap, NEC!

  5. The date of the runoff hasn’t been announced yet. Frankly, it’s troubling that an important date such as that is being withheld. There’s smoke somewhere in and around NEC.

  6. Wow! It is pity that Liberia has only one Supreme Court, like any other country in the world, to
    decide cases as the last recourse. However, in deciding a case, the Supreme Court should have
    no regard of fear of whomever is interested in the case; whether it be Executive or Legislative
    Branches of Government. For to do so would mean lack of transparency, due diligence and rule
    of law.

    What was the case before the Liberian Supreme Court? Simple; That in those elections of
    October 10, 2017, there were two components involved and they are;
    (1) Young mostly uneducated, inexperienced, disrespectful people coming from imprisoned
    Charles Taylor (who were had the slogan in the election that brought Charles Taylor to
    power: “You killed my pa and you killed my ma, I will vote for you.” And especially CDC
    George M. Weah heavily depends on to win the presidential election, as can be seen from
    his interactions with imprisoned Charles Taylor lately. And, to win their votes, Mr. Weah
    chose Jewel H. Taylor as his running mate.

    (2) Those seriously affected young Liberians who were deprived of education during the war
    but found accommodation in George Weah’s CDC for survival for most of them parents
    were killed by the imprisoned Charles Taylor also.

    So then, when President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf called the NEC Chairman, staff and workers
    and told them that her choice is CDC George Weah simply because he had promised her an
    immunity after office, and further directed them that the only way for George Weah to win
    the presidential election is they (NEC Chairman, staff and workers), should allow only the
    majority of young people described herein-above at private meeting at her private home.

    Wherefore and in view of these two components, a diligent Supreme Court would have
    ruled for rerun. Why? Because if it is only for run-off, only the majority of young people
    who had voted already would have the chance to vote; whereas, the matured, educated,
    experienced those knowledgeable with rule of law and transparency in public services
    would not have the chance to vote! That is the jeopardy the Supreme Court decision
    put the electoral process in chaos.

    However, I am very glad that the ECC saw the electoral issue in that light and asked the
    Supreme Court to clarify its mandate so that ALL LIBERIANS WILL VOTE! I can’t thank the
    ECC more!

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