— NEC reports, among several other incidents
A town chief in Gbarpolu County had denied 2,021 registered voters from voting after a forcedly sizing ballot box assigned at the Nomodatanau Town Hall voting precinct in district three.
The town chief’s action, which is being investigated by the police, according to the Nation Elections Commission, resulting in the denial of the citizens’ right to vote as the town chief left without returning.
The Gbarpolu instance, which is one of the few problems NEC reported yesterday at its first post-election and referendum press conference yesterday occurred at the polling stations with Precinct Code #45039, which has four polling places
“The Commission regrets to announce that at Nomodatanau Town Hall Precinct Place coded 45039 in District #3, Gbarpolu County, the Town Chief there (named undisclosed) seized the ballot box and denied voters the right to exercise their franchise. Voting did not take place there,” NEC chairperson, Madam Davidetta Browne Lansanah told journalists.
Although she did disclose from her preliminary findings why the town chief allegedly seized the ballot box and prevented a number of voters (undisclosed) from exercising their democratic right, she said a full investigation has been launched by the Commission and the Liberia National Police (LNP) to ascertain the facts and take appropriate measure.
“We regret the incident but we can assure the voters in that part of the country that they will cast their ballots for candidates of their choice in a few days as of today,” Lansanah assured.
Also in Upper Nimba, District #2, NEC reported that people did not vote because there were no elections staff deployed in that part of Nimba.
“At Tiapa Public School, with code number 33100 and Gbayee Public School, bearing code number 33052, there were no election staff. We regret the incident but, as in the case of Gbarpolu, they will be allowed to vote in a few days and their votes will be counted,” she further assured.
Stating why there were no election staff at those polling centers in District #2 in Nimba, the NEC chairperson said, the Commission had constraints and lately was informed of the incident there was no sufficient time to act.
Madam Davidetta Browne Lansanah reported also that in Lower Nimba, District #6, specifically at Tappeh Memorial School bearing the precinct code 33162, two temporary election staff were caught with polling box #4 and they took the box to their homes for safe keeping after the counting of the votes cast there.
“Police investigation revealed that the seals on the boxes were corresponding to the seals recorded by party agents and NEC local office there took delivery of TEE-3 boxes while investigation is ongoing,” NEC boss said.
In Grand Gedeh Electoral District #3 Precinct #15001 (Bargblor Public School), residents there were told by some of their fellow residents not to vote because of a different county name (not disclosed) written on the ballot box.
“It was a little problem but not grave enough to have caused our people not to vote. The sticker placed on the box bore the same number (15001) and assigned to that part of Grand Gedeh,” Madam Lansanah said.
She added that voting did not take place there too but the Commission is working out the modality for the elegible voters in that part of Liberia to vote too.
Announcement of Results
Madam Davidetta Browne Lansanah said the Commission will begin announcing preliminary results in the soonest possible time but admonishes all citizens across the country to take only the results from the Commission as they are the official and legitimate results.
“We know that we are in the digital age and you too have been following. You have your results but we accept and report results from our election staff. We will do all in our power to remain engaged with the public and report everything as it should be reported,” Lansanah said.
She assured the public of the Commission’s commitment to transparency, accountability and credibility in not only conducting the elections but also to report results as they are generated from the votes cast by voters.
Allegations on fraud, others
The National Elections Commission (NEC) supports investigation into the allegations of fraudulent activities said to have been carried out by some residents in Montserrado and other parts of the country.
“About people been arrested with multiple voter cards and other electoral violations, the Liberia National Police (LNP), we believe, have begun their investigations and we look forward to seeing the law take its due course. Let the word go forth that the Commission was not and is not in cohort with anyone or a group of people, politicians or not, to do any wrong,” Madam Lansanah said.
About a voter alleging that he received a prepacked ballot paper when he showed up to vote, Madam Lansanah said it was unfortunate that the voter had such experience but the truth lies not only in what he reported.
“We are all rational people. I am told that the voter received the ballots, left and went into the voting cubical and only to return in a few minutes with a complaint that he was given a premarked set of ballots for the Senate and the Referendum. It is serious but we are finding it difficult to accept its face value. Why didn’t the voter look at the ballots immediately he received them and file in his complaint except that he had some time away from the election staff?” she asked.
She compared the event to one receving money from a teller at a bank and asked to count right on the spot before leaving, noting that it is required of him or her to see and read the paper before proceeding to vote.
Meanwhile, senatorial candidates of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change and the Collaborating political party have begun declaring victories in the absence of official results from the National Elections Commission.
Despite warning from NEC, the CDC and CPP had each projected to win 7 to 8 of the 15 senatorial seats following a contentious poll that both parties had said they were leading based on their camps’ tallies. In battleground counties of Montserrado, Nimba, Bong and Grand Bassa, Guinean, the CPP, and CDC candidates or supporters yesterday gathered at their respective parties’ headquarters to celebrate their wins as they erupted in joy and chanted slogans.
The announcement from both parties in the absence of results sets the stage for a showdown with the election body despite polling day been mostly calm. The Opposition community has also expressed deeply suspicious of the fairness of the poll, as well as the independence of Liberia’s electoral authority, and has promised to do everything to protect their votes.