The Independent National Human Rights Commission (INHCR) has expressed concern over the low turnout of eligible citizens to register to vote in the October 10 Presidential and representative polls.
Addressing journalists during a recent press conference at the Commission’s head office in Congo Town, the acting chairperson, Rev. Barthalomeou B. Colley, admitted that his office is deeply worried over preliminary reports by the NEC on the disappointing voter registration results.
“The Elections Commission recently announced about a week to the close of the voter registration process that it had recorded approximately 800,000 registered voters representing only 32 percent of the expected turnout of 2.5million. This figure falls by 1.7million below the number of registered voters in the 2011 elections,” Rev. Colley said, adding that the Commission fears that if the number of registered voters does not reach near the expected turnout, issues of legitimacy of the emerging winners may arise about the results of the upcoming elections.
The INHRC boss noted that to reverse this trend, his Commission is pleading with all Liberians of age 18 years and above who have not yet registered, to take advantage of the extended one week period and register to exercise their franchise in October this year.
He said the INHRC wants the citizenry to see the process as an opportunity in which they can determine the destiny of the country.
“Voting is fundamental human right as enshrined in the Constitution of Liberia and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that must be enjoyed by everyone void of status or condition,” he pointed out.
In relation to irregularities and fraud surrounding the voter registration process, Rev. Colley said his Commission is admonishing the NEC and all stakeholders to be more vigilant and alert as the transparency and integrity of the process is closely associated with the peace of the country.
“Moreover, the Commission calls on all political parties and would be candidates to responsibly play their respective roles as nationalists and patriots in order to safeguard the process, and by extension Liberia’s nascent democracy.”
He said the INHRC is presently engaged with the NEC and stakeholders throughout the electoral process to ensure that voter apathy is averted.
The head of complaints, monitoring and evaluations at the INHRC, Mrs. Oretha Davis, said her office is closely working with several women’s groups across the country to ensure that women who are discouraged and do not want to register, are persuaded to overlook their frustrations and register to vote.
“We are aware that most of our women out there think they have labored in vain over the years by registering to vote and subsequently voting into office people they thought could have met their expectations through proper legislations and personal sacrifices, but the case is probably to the contrary,” Mrs. Davis said.
She admonished all eligible females to register to vote as all is not lost and the future has a bright side if they take ownership of the decision either to retain or vote in a new corps of national officers.