Liberia Elections Observation Network (LEON) has expressed concern over a number of voters being denied the right to vote in the just-ended senatorial by-election in Grand Cape Mount County, because they themselves were not informed voters during the verification period.
At a press conference held in Robertsport with journalists, Pilate Johnson, a member of LEON’s team monitoring the senatorial by-election, said the names of a number of people were not found on the final registration roll (FRR) at some polling places, and such experience caused a serious disappointment for the people, who wished to have contributed to the election of a senator of their choice to replace the late Senator Edward B. Dagoseh.
Senator Dagoseh died on June 1 this year after a period illness. He was elected in 2011 and served until his passing.
“There were cases where a few people were not found at all on any list and were turned away. This was observed in Median Public School, (Precinct 12040, District #2) Sinje Public School (District #2), Kperneje (Precinct 12049), Tan Public School (Precinct 12055 District #1), Islamic Model School (Precinct 12064, District #2), Robertsport High School (Precinct 12063, District #2) and most notably in Tienii Public School (12008, District #3), Kingjor Town Hall (12018, District #2),” Johnson said.
He said that at the Islamic Model School, a lady, who had a valid voter card, was allowed to vote, even though her name was not found on the voters’ list at any of the four polling places.
Musu Passawe, a 28-year-old resident of Lodejai in Robertsport, told journalists that she was denied voting simply because the presiding officer (PO) for polling place #3, the station she was assigned to vote, said that he was ordered by his bosses not to allow her vote at the Muslim Model School.
Moses Harvey, the presiding officer for polling place #3 at the Islamic Model School, confirmed to journalists that his bosses (not named) ordered him not to allow Musu Passawe to vote.
“The replacement of lost and damaged voter identification cards is a requirement under the New Elections Law of Liberia. This has happened in every election, especially by-elections.
“Replacement of lost and damaged voters’ cards for the Grand Cape Mount County Senatorial by election was to have taken place from August 26-31, 2019, according to the NEC calendar, but was cancelled.
This means that any person who lost or damaged their voting cards were unable to vote in the Saturday, October 5, by-election,” Johnson added.
LEON blamed the very low turnout of voters on the probability of campaign messages, including promises, and the prevailing economic circumstances not resonating all too well with the electorates.
LEON said the Senatorial By-Election’s atmosphere was generally peaceful except for three minor incidents in the Mano River Kongo, Lofa Bridge and Tienii region.
“In Mano River Kongo, there was a fistfight between partisans of the People’s Unification Party (PUP) and Unity Party (UP) candidates, including former County Superintendent Tenneh Simpson Kpedebah, on the evening of September 24,” Johnson said.
He added that both parties, who were involved in the altercation, have accused each other of starting the incident. But during the melee, Madam Simpson-Kpedebah’s house and the radio station owned by the PUP were reportedly destroyed.
“The police have confirmed that two people were injured, and said they are investigating the incident,” Johnso said.
LEON commended the people of Grand Cape Mount for their resilience and the peaceful manner in which they conducted themselves on the day of the by-election.