In lower Margibi County, at least 13 candidates, including incumbent Senator Clarice Jah of the Unity Party; Saah Gbollie, former Margibi County representative and National Patriotic Party in the 52nd legislature; and UL Prof, Dean Ansu Sonii, were all vying for the single senatorial post. Prof. Sonii ran as an independent candidate, while Jah and Gbollie were seen as the front runners for the county’s senatorial seat.
At the Rock Church School, about a mile from the Camp Edward Binyan Kesselly Military Barracks, polling got off to a very slow start. Voters from the surrounding communities, including Dwazon, Gbengba town, and the barracks, trickled in to cast their ballots.
Few hours later, what appeared to be chartered vehicles, began bringing voters in. One of the bus drivers, Mustapha Kamara, told the Daily Observer that he had taken some of the voters from Soul Clinic Community in Paynesville City, Montserrado County.
“I was parking in Redlight when they came to charter me to bring their partisans to vote here in Margibi,” he said.
Kamara's admission validates complaints made earlier this year in some quarters that people were being trucked in from other parts of the country to register and increase the voting population of certain candidates. This was widespread in the 2011 General and Presidential Elections, which President Ellen Johnson won for her second and final term.
Our reporter further observed that some of the voters, who were brought in to cast their ballots, were drinking a white creamy substance. One of them told the Daily Observer: “We have to get in zico (a Liberian slang among young people, meaning ‘high’ or ‘tipsy’) before we can go and cast our vote.” However, the election officers did not allow them in until they had left their bottles behind.
Further up the highway, in Margibi, is a very small community school at Marshall Junction, where another polling center comprising five rooms, was located.
The election officers, even though they had no police officers to help them properly organize the process as was the case at Rock which had at least four police officers, still managed to keep the voting process orderly. Voters were seen observing the ‘2-3 feet apart’ preventive distance between voters put in place by the National Election Commission(NEC) against the further spread of the deadly Ebola virus, which has so far killed more than 3000 persons in Liberia. The election had to be postponed twice for fear of the disease further spreading.
It was the same slow turnout and cars bringing voters in, one of the polling officers who didn't want to be named told the Observer. He, however, couldn’t say where they were being transported from.
Off the highway and deep into Lower Margibi County, in Folley Town, the issue of health measures was thrown out of the window. Voters were “skin on skin” as they stood in the queue.
At all of the centers our reporter visited, none had any of the 4700 thermometers and 10,000 hand sanitizers which Mr. Tolbert G. Nyenswah, head of Incident Management System (IMS), announced would be available at all the polling centers around the country.