Liberia: National Elections Commission Must Address Rising Concerns Regarding Trucking of Voters & Multiple Registration by Voters
OVER THE PAST 24 to 72 hours, since the National Elections Commission commenced its Voter Registration exercise, several trucks have been spotted taking voters to registration centers across the country.
THE “COMMERCIAL VOTERS” as they have come to be known, are paid by contestants in legislative races leave their places of residence to register in other areas where they do not reside for cash.
THE ISSUE OF TRUCKING voters is just one of many dogging the run-up to the Midterm Senatorial elections set for December.
LAST WEEK, the Collaborating Political Parties(CPP) officially submitted a complaint to the NEC, expressing unsettling concerns over the electoral body’s decision to launch a Voters Update Exercise with the adoption of a Mobile Process Exercise which will be carried out without any reference to the other parties who are equal competitors in the sacrosanct democratic undertaking, ahead of the December 8 Senatorial Midterm elections.
IN A COMMUNICATION addressed to the head of the NEC, Cllr. Davidetta Browne Lansanah, dated Sept. 11, 2020, the CPP accused the elections commission of dangerously treading a path of unilateralism, in collusion with the ruling CDC-led Administration.
ADDING MORE FUEL to the fire, numerous incidents are popping up from around the country, regarding multiple registration of some of these commercial voters.
MR. BERNARD ‘DJ BLUE’ BENSON, a candidate for the Montserrado County Senatorial elections has said he would file an injunction to halt the process.
INCUMBENT SENATOR ABRAHAM DARIUS DILLON has also said he would file a complaint to halt the process due to the issues of multiple registration being reported across the country.
ALL THESE INCIDENTS POINT to a looming disaster for the electoral process in December.
LIBERIA HAS A RUGGED and painful history when it comes to elections.
IT IS SAD that before the first ballot is cast in December, the signs are pointing to chaos and violence.
THE SAD reality is that NEC appears unable or perhaps unwilling to address the issue.
WHILE ACKNOWLEDGING that the act of trucking is against the electoral laws of Liberia, NEC officials contend that because no one has filed an official complaint, there is really not much it can do. “Nothing of such has been brought to my attention,” says Henry Flomo, Director of Communications.
ACCORDING TO MR. FLOMO, the commission “does not go out looking for cases”, and as such, it remains the sole prerogative of citizens to allow or reject the trucking of commercial voters into their respective districts or counties.
SAYS FLOMO: “Trucking is against the law, but what we can come out to say is-the people out there are the first to either allow or stop trucking. You have a right if you see someone at your polling precinct or registration center to report the matter to the Registrar”.
THIS IS NOT the first time, the trucking issue has come to the fore of Liberia’s political discourse. Ahead of the 2017 general and presidential elections, when the NEC, headed by Cllr. Jerome Korkoya sought to introduce measures to curb the rampant trucking of voters to various parts of Liberia by candidates looking to win senatorial and legislative elections, members of both houses of the National Legislature balked at the idea of addressing a nagging issue that comes around every election circle.
AS THE COUNTDOWN to the December Midterm elections winds down, it is becoming increasingly clear that Africa’s oldest republic may be bracing itself for a repeat of the Presidential elections of 1927 which remains forever etched in the pages of history. The result gave a controversial victory to Charles D.B. King of the True Whig Party to seal his third term, after King’s defeat of Thomas J. Faulkner of the People’s Party. That result made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the most fraudulent and “the most rigged ever” reported in history. The fraud was simply too glaring not to detect, even for those days. Despite there being fewer than 15,000 registered voters, King received around 243,000 votes, compared to 9,000 for Faulkner.
WITH REPORTS OF MULTIPLE voter registrations and massive trucking of voters from one community to the next emerging, many political observers fear that the trouble may be on the horizon for Liberia and the post-war democratic revival may be in trouble if nothing is done to avert the tide leaning toward the possibility of potentially serious election fraud in December.