— As Rivercess Post-Election’s Hullabaloo ends after entire County recount
The much-anticipated recount in Rivercess County following expressions of discontentment by Steve Tequah, an independent candidate in the December 8, 2020 Special Senatorial Elections, has been completed and the results from the process, vindicating Wellington Geevon Smith, also an independent candidate and Tequah’s main rival.
Smith was announced the winner by the National Elections Commission (NEC) after the December polls, but could not be certificated to assume his senatorial post due to legal challenges from Tequah.
Tequah raised an alarm that there were irregularities and suspected fraud, for which he damnded a recount of seven polling places. And when the recount was performed but still did not favor him, he filed a bill of information requesting a rerun of the polls in the entire county so as to be convinced of the credibility of the electoral process.
His appeal for a rerun was nullified, leaving with no option but to settle for a county-wide recount of the ballots cast on December 8, 2021.
The NEC has now completed the recount process and Wellington Geevon Smith remains the winner, with 3,332 votes, accounting for 23.35 percent of the entire votes counted in the County.
Tequah, on the other hand, got 3,289 votes or 23.05 percent of the votes counted, losing to Smith by 43 votes.
On January 18, 2021, the first recount at seven polling centers was done on request by Tequah under the Elections Law, and Smith again emerged victorous with 3,302 votes or 23.3 percent while he (Tequah) obtained 3,248 votes or 23.0 percent.
In the second and final recount completed yesterday, March 21, 2021, a total of 111 polling centers across the County were recounted.
Smith’s 116-vote margin earned from December 8 narrowed down to 54, while the final recount on March 21, further narrowed the margin between the two to 43 votes. As provided for under the Elections Law that a simple majority warrants victory, Smith is poised to be seated as the Rivercess County Senator, following certification, replacing the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) incumbent Senator, Dallas Gueh.
Others who contested the December polls in Rivercess were Gabriel Buchanan Smith, former Grand Bassa Distric #3 Representative and a candidate on the ticket of the opposition Collaborating Political Parties (CPP), Winston Garpue Borbor of the United People’s Party (UPP), and Prince B. Brown of Liberia National Union (LINU).
Also, Eddie J. Strother of Movement for Progressive Change (MPC), Bob Rancy Ziankahn of the People’s Unification Party (PUP), and Janjay N. Bloh of the Rainbow Alliance (RA), contested the election.
Now that the recount has authenticated his win, it is not clear when the National Elections Commission will certificate Smith. Prince Dunbar, NEC’s acting Communications Director, could not comment on the matter when contacted.
“I can’t say anything now. I was in Bomi and I don’t have any details now to speak of but, in due course, the public will be duly informed,” Dunbar said via telephone.
There are still post-December 8 polls cases ongoing, mainly at the Supreme Court. The major ones involve Lofa County Senator-elect Brownie Samukai, and Gbarpolu’s Botoe Kanneh whose fates are yet to be handled by the Supreme Court. Another electoral dispute between Edith Gongloe-Weh and Representative Jeremiah Koung for the Nimba County Senatorial seat is yet to be resolved, and this makes Senator Prince Johnson alone to still be representing the county at the level of the Senate.