By David S. Menjor
The Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) has expressed disappointment in the National Elections Commission (NEC) for saying that electorates whose names are not on the commission’s final listing during and after the voter roll exhibition will vote.
Addressing journalists yesterday during a press conference at its head office in Sinkor, ECC chairman Oscar Bloh said his office is deeply concerned with the pronouncement by NEC chairman Jerome G. Korkoya.
“This pronouncement has the potential to undermine the ongoing voter roll exhibition process and defeats the very purpose for which it was commissioned,” Mr. Bloh warned.
The ECC boss said as the exhibition gradually draws to an end, his office applauds the NEC for the timely provision of information on problems associated with the Provisional Registration Roll (PRR), but advised that good measures be put in place to avoid future embarrassment.
“While there is a need for answers to some critical questions by the NEC, we recommend that the NEC shoulders the responsibility to let the Liberian people know how many registered voters’ names and photos are missing from the 2,080 voter registration centers,” he said, adding that the NEC needs to provide an explanation to the citizens on how the names and photos of registered voters got missing from the PRR.
“The ECC is calling for a full investigation on whether this emerging problem emanated from the voter registration centers during the scanning of the forms, the printing of the PRR, or a combination of all of the above,” Mr. Bloh noted.
He said owing to the fact that elections depend on the credibility of the final VR list, the NEC has to address all the critical issues being raised before the end of the exhibition period.
“Preliminary reports from our observers in the 73 electoral districts across the country show that the number of missing names and photos from some of the centers are alarming,” he pointed out, stating further that the ECC is in complete disagreement with the NEC’s proposed solutions to the problems arising from the exhibition.
Bloh continued that according to field observers from his office across the country, the affected registered voters complained of not having money to get to election magistrates’ offices to correct problems associated with the VR process.
At a press conference held at its headquarters on Wednesday, June 14, NEC Chairman Korkoya begged for consideration and told journalists that the people should not worry about the challenges surrounding the voter roll process.
He appealed to the general public, particularly registered voters, not to worry about their photos and names not being displayed at the places they had registered, saying that they will not lose their right to vote as long as they have valid voter registration cards.
“If we thought that there would have been no challenge or error we would not have made time allotment for this exhibition. Let us accept that this attempt is to help us see those mistakes and correct them,” Korkoya noted, adding that while it is good to criticize, no one should make falsehood a status quo in discussing election matters.
“Another challenge we have received is that some voter roll centers bear the same codes. This was an error from our technical department, but we are working to correct all of the mistakes associated with the entire voter roll process,” he said.
The NEC boss called on the media to help in the education of the public on the facts about the NEC’s operations rather than just searching for negative angles to report on.
He said June 28 is the deadline for dealing with all issues relating to the voter roll exhibition.
“Every registered voter has up to the 28th of this month to give in his or her name and other information to our staff at all the voter roll exhibition centers not displayed, and the necessary corrections will be made,” he noted, adding that the only requirement is one’s valid voter registration card.
“In case you don’t have money now to go to the voter registration center where you did your registration we will reach out to all the centers and afford you the opportunity to correct what is missing in your voter information,” Korkoya said.
He said after the voter roll exhibition his office will make public the final listing of all qualified names of voters from across the country.
He noted that the budget for the voter roll exhibition process is US$3,041,000, but that at present the government has only provided a little over US$2 million.
He said the areas in Sinoe County affected by the heavy rains have not been reached up to date. “Concerning Sinoe, we will inform the public the moment we have access to the affected areas,” he said.
Chairman Korkoya’s press conference validated the Daily Observer’s follow up on the Voter Roll Exhibition where three persons, Sekou Kamara, Joe Kollie and Sarah Johnson said although they had registered to vote at the St. Francis High School in Jacob Town, Paynesville their pictures and names were not on the listing of registered voters posted at the center.