— Admonishes public to ‘be patient‘
The Chairperson of the National Election Commission (NEC) has announced planned to clean its controversial voters roll amid a lawsuit filed by the opposition Collaborating Political Parties.
In a statement, the electoral body chairperson Davidetta Browne Lansanah informed the Liberian people of the NEC’s intent to clean the voters roll or Final Registration Roll (FRR) for the pending December 8 senatorial and legislative by-elections.
“Let me reassure the Liberian people that the Voter Roll Update (VRU) exercise that ran from September 11th to the 25th, was intended to collect raw data about potential registrants which will be processed through the NEC’s data management system
“The FRR will be announced after the data cleansing process, which will include the de-duplication and exhibition of the provisional voter roll,” Lansanah said.
Madam Lansanah added that during the exhibition, the provisional voter roll will be at all the 2080 precincts across the country for vetting and that all Liberian who are concerned about elections matters to be patient and trust that the Commission will do all in its power, as provided for by law, to produce fair, credible and transparent results.
“During the exhibition, the provisional voter roll will be posted at all 2080 precincts across the country for vetting,” she said. “The NEC calls on all Liberians to be patient and follow the process to its logical conclusion.”
Madam Lansanah’s assurance comes NEC has failed to comprehensively clean the voters roll since the 2017 election despite an order from the Supreme Court.
The court in its ruling on Bill of Exception filed by the opposition Liberty Party in cohort with the governing ruling Unity Party in 2017, ruled that the precondition for the then runoff election was the mandatory cleaning up of the Final Register Roll (FRR).
According to the Supreme Court’s 2017 ruling, the cleaning up of the FRR is to ensure that NEC is in compliance with the provision of the law. The Court also ordered NEC to make available in published hard copies the FRR to all Election Magistrates and polling places across the country in accordance with law prior to the conduct of the runoff election.
But that was never done as NEC went on conducting the 2017 general election and subsequent by-elections that follows. Earlier, the Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) expressed concerns over the unclean voter’s roll in the system of the National Elections Commission. The ECC argued that the continued use of that voter rolls by NEC will be a recipe for political conflict, instability and will undermine the integrity of the results.
And quite recently at the start of the Voter Roll Update, the opposition CPP complained to the NEC of its decision to kick-start the process with the adoption of a Mobile Process Exercise, which they argued was being carried out without any reference to the other parties who are competing in the upcoming December 8 Senatorial Midterm elections.
In said communication, the CPP accused the elections commission headed by Cllr. Davidetta Browne Lansanah “of dangerously treading a path of unilateralism, in collusion with the ruling CDC-led Administration.”
And a few days later, the CPP filed a lawsuit asking Associate Justice Sie-A-Nyene Gyapay Yuoh, the Justice in Chamber of the Supreme Court to issue a Mandamus against the NEC to compile it to clean-up the Voter Roll, which they believe, is critical to the peace and stability of the country, stressing that “cleaning the Voter’s Roll will clothe the process with credibility, accountability, and fairness and is in furtherance of Chapter 1, Article 1 of the 1986 Constitution.”
The compliant continues: “Grant the preemptory writ of mandamus after hearing, compelling the NEC and the government to comply with the Supreme Court’s judgment in the case, National Elections Commission and the Board of Commissioners vs Charles Walker Brumskine, Harrison Karnwea, presidential and vice presidential candidates and Joseph Nyumah Boakai and James Emanuel Nuquaye, presidential and vice presidential candidates at the October 10, 2017, elections of both the Liberty Party and the Unity Party, respectively.”
‘Montserrado and Sinoe Counties by-election Set for December 8, too’
In a related development, the electoral body has issued a Writ of election for the conduct of Montserrado and Sinoe Counties electoral district #9 and electoral district #2, respectively Legislative by-elections.
Madam Lansanah gave the go-ahead to the elections magistrates in lower Montserrado and Sinoe Counties to conduct, same as the Special Senatorial Election, the by-elections.
NEC’s action is in line with Article 37 of the Constitution of the Republic of Liberia which gives the Legislature the right to command the Commission to hold by-elections should be vacancies created by death, a Legislator’s inability to further function due to sickness or some other reasons.
Article 37 states: “In the event of vacancy in the Legislature caused by death, resignation, expulsion or otherwise, the Presiding officer shall within 30 days notify the Elections Commission thereof.
“The Elections Commission shall not, later than 90 days thereafter cause a by-election to be held; provided that where such vacancy occurs within 90 days prior to the holding of general elections, the filling of the vacancy shall await the holding of such general elections.”
The vacancies in the two Districts came about following the deaths of Representatives Munah Pelham Youngblood of Montserrado District #9 and J. Nagbe Sloh of Sinoe District #2.
Meanwhile, NEC has disclosed that the electoral body intent to continue to VRU process in few affected counties despite the process coming to an end.
“The NEC is under obligation to make up for those centers that were not covered or did not start on the assigned dates, occasioned by logistical challenges due to bad roads. For those isolated cases, the VRU teams are being deployed and will conduct the VRU exercise from now to 29 September 2020 to process eligible citizens. The counties affected by the delay are Gbarpolu, Grand Kru, Maryland, River Cess, River Gee and Sinoe,” she said.