Charles Walker Brumskine of the Liberty Party (LP) is the first presidential candidate to raise qualms (misgivings) with the National Elections Commission (NEC) for alleged irregularities in the October 10 elections.
According to the LP presidential candidate, the election did not meet minimum standards, and that the preliminary results released by authorities of NEC are “not valid.”
Brumskine, a counselor-at-law, said he had evidence to substantiate his claims, and will, therefore, go to the Supreme Court to seek redress.
The Liberty Party standard bearer’s argument went further to pinpoint delay on the part of NEC on Election Day to dispatch voting materials to various centers in Montserrado County and other parts of the country.
At the same time, it has been reported in Nimba County that a rerun of the October 10 election is expected in Districts 3 and 4, owing to what NEC authorities described as “fraud and discrepancies.”
According to our Nimba County Correspondent Ishmael Menkor, a NEC presiding officer, Josephus Cooper, was caught with six ballot papers already checked in favor of a candidate.
Apart from the LP candidate’s accusation, there are some instances to consider on the part of NEC in the scheduled Nimba electoral rerun.
It may be recalled that in many voting precincts, voters remained in queues until 8 o’clock p.m., contrary to the 6 p.m. closing schedule. There were two factors causing voters to be in queues beyond the set time. First, NEC failed to dispatch materials to centers soon enough, and because of this procrastination, the voting process at many centers across the country did not start at the scheduled 8 a.m.
This happened when the United Nations and other partners had begun transporting election materials by air to areas inaccessible by road, and the NEC itself dispatching some materials to areas in its reach. On Election Day it was reported that even in Montserrado County, which is very much within the reach of NEC, the surprisingly late arrival of voting materials caused some precincts to commence the voting process as late as 3 p.m. What, then, was NEC’s problem in reaching precincts in Montserrado so late with voting materials?
Part of the delay, as far as voters’ complaints were concerned, was due to inefficient and ineffective performances of poll workers. Voters at many centers complained that poll workers were so slow that they could not easily identify names on the voter roll list before them.
This ineffective and inefficient performance led a girl at the Liberty Christian Institute precinct in Ganta, Nimba County to be sent home for damaging some documents at that center.
NEC, in its quest to hire competent and qualified people, went on earlier to outline qualifications for those to be considered. NEC indicated in its advertisement that registrars and other election workers should have Bachelor’s degrees in Social Sciences and Business, and that persons doing the least work should be high school graduates.
Performances of some of the recruited poll workers did not convince voters that these workers were quite high school students, rather, relatives and friends of NEC officials and other employees.
The case of voters having valid voting cards without names on the voter roll was another problem, especially in Bong County. In Gbartala, as in many other centers around the country, many voters were disappointed that their names were not on the voter roll.
When the voter exhibition was done in June, the same concern was raised and NEC Chairman Jerome Korkoya said all those with valid voter ID cards but without names on the voter roll will be qualified to vote. Again, to the surprise of Liberians, some voters were denied the right to vote, thus leading some angry voters to set up roadblocks in Bong County.
As we await the final results and the presidential run-off, we urge NEC to do its best to rectify some of its mistakes made and conduct the runoff election appropriately and efficiently.
Anticipating the run-off, we urge NEC to make adequate preparations to get voting materials to all precincts well ahead of time. As we have always contended, the peace of this country hangs on the election, and NEC has the power to uphold the peace, or destroy it, single-handedly.