— As of the ballot boxes are without top
Voters at Polling Place 3 at voting prescient code #30108 in the Omega Community, Paynesville city have expressed a lack of insecurity over their votes, cast in an open box.
The voters, who gathered in their numbers at the center to cast their vote, discovered after waiting for an hour that one of the ballot boxes that were provided by the National Election Commission (NEC) staff had no cover to secure the ballots after being cast.
Tom O. Namely, a voter at the center said, “my question is, why one of the boxes has a top and the other is open? That is not voting because I cannot be participating in a secret process and have the box open that anyone can play in at any time.”
“This is not my first time participating in elections; usually, the boxes are closed and, before opening, it is shown to all the observers and the serial number is read before opening and everyone needs to make sure it is open. But for here, the box is open and that means that people can play in our vote at their will,” he said in frustration.
Namely said if the NEC staffs cannot bring a top or change the box, he is not going to vote because it is better he is not part than people making decision for him after he has participated in the process.
He said “NEC needs to be careful when it comes to handling elections issues because such process has the ability to destabilize the nation. Handling elections in such a disorderly way for a nation like Liberia that has conducted so many elections is very frustrating. We need to be serious in this country about things that involve major decisions about Liberia.”
Winston Paye said, “after waiting for almost two hours, the boxes that were brought here are not closed and for me when it is not closed, I will not put the paper in the one that is not close. We are educated and should not be taken as foolish people when we are making critical decisions that will affect our children in few years.”
“If I vote now and put the ballot paper in the open box, it may be changed, who knows? So my concern here is, inasmuch I do not feel right about the process, I will just let it be. I will vote in a future election,” Paye said.
Paye disclosed that even though criticizes are calling for a peaceful process, the NEC should conduct itself in a way that will people believe that the process is free, fair, and transparent.
NEC staff, who refused to be interviewed when providing information to the angry voters, said the box cannot be at the polling place without top so he called the Election supervisor that is assigned to Paynesville. That was how he was given the go-ahead to move on with the process.
He said, “you have waited here since morning for this process to state so we cannot stop the entire process only because one of the boxes came open.”
NEC spokesman, Henry Flomo, said once the Observers reached an agreement that they used the open box without a top, that should not be a problem adding that if there is a disagreement, it will be signed in the complaint form and forwarded to the NEC for redress.
He said the only reason the boxes can be sealed is to ensure that nothing different entirely from the boxes but those on the ground feel that it posed no threat to the process that should not be an issue.
Collaborating Political Party (CPP) and the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) observers in a separate interview said they have all agreed to allow the process to continue without tap as a means of allowing those who have a stand on the line for so long cast their votes.
Tarnue Jallah, a voter at Right-Hand education Foundation, voting prescient Code #30109, polling place 2, in an interview, said when he entered the voting center, he was given two ballot papers to vote for both the senatorial candidate and referendum, at which time he went to cast his secret ballot.
According to Jallah, upon voting for the candidate of his choice, he observed that the paper had been marked in favor of another candidate, adding that he hurriedly took the concern to the NEC polling staff for regress.
Jallah said upon informing NEC staffs, they told him that the pre-mark on the ballot was caused by him so, “I quickly informed them that NEC gives me a black pen to mark my ballot paper but the pre-mark on the paper was blue that was how they later agreed that I vote using the was going to be counted so I dropped my vote in the ballot box.”
“After I got through voting for Darius Dillion, I observed that my ballot had already been cast in favor of CDC candidate Thomas Fallah, so I came and informed the polling staffs about it and requested a new ballot paper to vote. But they refused and promised that my vote will not be counted as invalid, so I got convinced and drop the vote in the ballot box,” he told Daily Observer.
But the head of polling staffs in polling 2 said the mistake came from Jallah who wanted to vote a candidate of his choice but mistakenly voted another person an allegation that was denial by both CPPO and CDC observers but decided to let the process go on and accept the vote be counted.
In a related development in Kakata, the elections process was halted due to election violence and those believed to be associated with said disruption have reportedly been arrested by police officers in the county for investigation.
According to Eyewitnesses, two individuals were caught with pre-marked ballot papers in favor of the Margibi District #2 Representative Ivar Jones, who is contesting senatorial elections on CDC ticket.
As a result, there was huge tension that led to people being arrested and turned over to the Liberia National Police, which brought the process to a standstill. It was not confirmed whether the process later resume.
Henry Bright, Campaign chairperson of Rep. Jones, said the violence was the result of the misinterpretation of the real fact adding that the representative has nothing to do with the pre-mark ballot papers adding that “there was nothing called pre-marked ballot papers.”