Liberians are anticipating a new date to conclude the October 10 election process, with many relishing the opportunity to cast their votes to determine the country’s next president.
However, to be able to do that when the date is announced, they must have in their possession their voter registration (VR) cards.
Since the start of the VR process early this year, commercial banks across Liberia passed a new policy that disallows the use of employee ID cards, student ID cards, church membership cards and even birth certificates to receive remitted money through either Western Union or Money Gram.
According to a bank teller at the IB Bank on Ashmun Street who asked not to be named, Western Union only allows customers with either Liberian or international passports or voter registration cards to claim their funds.
“These two proofs of identification are very seldom duplicated by those who find all kinds of means to be able to intercept someone receiving money from online. So most often one sees more Liberians using their voter registration cards to receive their money,” she added.
The bank feels this is a good system that will protect those receiving large sums of money from being robbed or duped, she said.
But since the Central Bank’s policy for those receiving US dollars says they should receive 75% in US dollars and 25% in Liberian dollars, the hassle of counting hundreds, if not thousands of Liberian dollars sometimes causes a receiver to forget his or her voter ID card at the bank due to focusing on checking for torn (tear-tear) money.
“If you check all the banks across Liberia and add up the number of voter ID cards posted on Western Union teller windows, there are about 200,” she added.
These forgotten or abandoned cards have been at bank counters long before the October 10 voting began.
At least six banks in Monrovia have more than 28 voter cards owned by Liberian youth under age 25 in their banking halls. Tellers have tried contacting each on Facebook to inform them that their cards were at specific banks and even took snapshots as proof.
“That is the problem because banks do not have the time to call each person to tell them to come for their ID card. More than likely these individuals will receive money again compelling some of them to come back for their cards,” the teller added.
This indicates that many Liberians were not able to vote due to lost IDs and they may miss out on the opportunity to vote again if their cards continue to be abandoned at the various remittance centers.
According to the NEC, anyone who has lost or damaged his or her voting card will not be allowed to vote. Article 3.5 of the Liberian Elections Law requires the NEC to replace lost or damaged cards of registered voters before they can vote.
The process of getting a new voter card is to proceed to the nearest NEC Magistrate Office to report a lost or damaged voter card.
The replacement of a voter ID card is not considered a new voter registration exercise, but one simply done to accord the individual his or her constitutional right to vote.