Dozens of registered voters who said they turned out very early to cast their votes for the next corps of leaders of Liberia, reported they were disappointed with the way polling places were organized in Douala.
Three communities, including Douala, St. Paul’s Bridge and New Kru Town registered at Saint Mary’s Catholic Senior High School, which turned out to be one of the most populated polling places in Bushrod Island.
There, two different sections divided into three different polling places (from 1-3), had flyers attached to each door that read: Polling place 1, 720470137-720474977 (voting prevent code 30082); Polling place 2, 720474987-738180507 (voting prevent code 30082); Polling place 3, 738180517-762175437 (voting precinct code 30082); Section two, polling place 1, 720460117-720464197 (voting precinct code 30083); Polling place 2, 720464217-762171397 (voting precinct code 30083); Polling place 3, 762171407-762175417 (voting precinct code 30083).
As hundreds of men and women, including teenagers, queued up patiently to cast their votes, many were turned away at the door by polling staff.
“This is not the room you’re supposed to cast in your vote; go so,” was what most voters were told at almost every door.
“Why are they confusing us, so we will leave? This will cause me not to cast my vote because it’s shameful being told over and over that I’m at the wrong room,” stated a voter.
At our reporter’s disposal were copies of the final registration roll, which she was able to use to begin calming people down and helping them to the right locations. About a handful of people at 5:52 p.m. still could not find the right room after spending hours being turned around.
“Those that can’t find their rightful place, give us your particulars and we will do a search to make sure you vote. Your vote matters,” a staff yelled over a megaphone.
At 5:54 p.m., the gates at Saint Mary were closed and locked with a padlock. The lock was only opened to allow those who completed voting to leave.
One voter cursed and yelled and was eventually taken into polling place 2, precinct 30083 to be helped, while more then 20 registered voters stood in line at 5:56 p.m. waiting to cast their votes.
Also, some elections observers complained of hunger, though several were seen taking lunch breaks during the commotion.
One observer who said he was sent to the polling center by the Unity Party, boasted that though his stomach was empty and his mouth dry, he was able to do his job.
“Since 5 a.m., they never checked on us or even gave us water; I brought my own pen and books. What’s important is making sure this works out well,” he added.
Meanwhile, 6:07 p.m., those who were not able to find their rightful voting places were all in the rooms hurriedly casting their votes with panic written on their faces for fear that they would be disqualified, not due to their fault, but those of the polling staff.
“They didn’t show us where to go; they only said go that way, and there are many rooms. I will vote before I move from here,” one woman stated as she stood inside the polling place with her hands on her hips.
It turned out that what seemed to be the cause of the confusion at polling places was the fact that many did not read the flyers on the board. They depended on being directed to the right place, rather then finding it for themselves.