— Admits electoral process in Liberia is affected by anxiety or stress
With all fairness, the Supreme Court on Thursday, April 1, disclosed that electoral process in Liberia is fraught, meaning causing or affected by anxiety or stress, with problems of inadequate resources and logistics being key among other challenges.
Associate Justice Sie-A-Nyene G. Yuoh said because of that, there has been the late opening of Polling Places beyond the 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the voting processes as provided by the New Elections Law of Liberia.
Yuoh said, “It is a known fact that the electoral process in Liberia is fraught with problems of inadequate resources and logistics, Hence, the late opening of polling Places in District#2, Sinoe County beyond 8:00 in the morning by no means impacted the outcome of the election.”
The New Elections Law, she said, mandates that polls shall be opened from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the evening.
Justice Yuoh’s remarks were contained in the Supreme Court’s opinion (judgment) in the disputed By-Election in Sinoe County, District#2, where the court affirmed the decision of the National Elections Commission (NEC), declaring Samson Q.Wiah, (Appellee) the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change ( CDC) candidate, as the winner of the December 8, Representative By-Election.
Before requesting the Supreme Court’s intervention, the now defeated candidate, Othello Doe Nagbe (Appellant) of the Movement for Economics Empowerment (MOVEE), challenged the results of the process on ground that the late opening of the polls in the district amounted to irregularities,of which he was demanding a re-run of the election.
Nagbe also argued that the lateness of the opening of the polls disenfranchised voters, particularly those of his supporters who could not wait for the long delay.
The By-election resulted from the death of Sinoe County District #2 Representative, J. Nagbe Sloh of the former ruling Unity Party (UP).
However, Justice Yuoh reminded Nagbe that the polls remaining opened beyond 6 p.m. in the evening affording voters the opportunity to cast their votes due to the late opening of the polls do not amount to election irregularities to warrant a re-run.
Besides, Yuoh pointed out that Nagbe, the appellant, showed no evidence of his allegation of disenfranchised voters in his stronghold.
“Therefore, Justice Yuoh said, “Same is speculative, doubtful, and uncertain and has no factual or legal basis.”
Justice Yuoh added, “The ruling of the Board of Commissioners of the NEC, which confirmed the ruling of the Elections Magistrate regarding the by-election conducted in District#2, Sinoe County, dismissing the apoellant compliant, is hereby affirmed.”
“The clerk of this court is ordered to send a mandate to the NEC to resume jurisdiction over this and give effect to this Judgment,” Yuoh declared.
She said the overriding objective of the Elections Law is a secured, transparent, and accurate determination of the elections results.
According to Justice Yuoh, in ordered to achieve this objective, voters must be allowed to exercise their rights to vote and not be disenfranchised.
Hence, Yuoh noted that the polls remaining opened beyond 6 p.m., affording voters the opportunity to cast their votes due to the late opening of the polls do not amount to election irregularities to warrant re-run.
“That the Appellant, Nagbe, has no standing to seek legal remedy on behalf of voters allegedly disenfranchised as a result of the late opening, absent proof of authorization,” Yuoh declared.