Liberia: A ‘Flawed and Fraudulent’ Voter Roll Update – Sen. Aspirants Call for a Halt to Process, Threatens Injunction
MONROVIA – The Margibi County Police have their custody 27-year-old Abednego Garlawolo for alleged double voter registration. He was in possession of two voter ID cards – one bearing the name Garlawolo Abednego, V., 21, male. This issued at registration center 24127. The other bears the name Garlawolo V. Abednego, 27, female and was issued at 24122. But he blames the variances on the National Elections Commission (NEC) staff carrying out the exercise.
Abednego is not the only one discovered to have double registered in this voter roll update exercise. Several others were discovered in Bomi County where voter trucking massively took place.
For Abednego, he discovered the error with on his gender on his voter ID when he first went to register, but the NEC official, according to him, failed to issue him a new one.
“When the NEC worker refused to change the mistake on the card, I decided to go to the other center to do new registration and just forget about the spoiled one. When I tried explaining the situation on what I could do about the spoiled card, that is how one man called police on me,” he explained.
In Bomi County, a man claiming to be 18 years of age, allegedly registered three times using different first names but the same surname and was issued three voter ID cards. On one hand, he registered as Cooper Alex then he also registered again as Cooper Edward and again as Cooper Mambu. Interestingly, all his cards were issued at the same registration center marked 03016.
Cooper’s voter ID has been trending on social media with a load of condemnations but the National Elections Commission (NEC) says it would only act on such offense when a complaint is filed.
Speaking to FrontPageAfrica on the issue, the Communications Director at the NEC, Mr. Henry Flomo said, ““No one has brought any complaint to the Commission. There is a procedure and the forms are there. If anyone detect any fraud during the process, they have the right to file a complaint with the Commission and the Commission will look into it. To the best of my knowledge, there has been no complaint before the NEC. Those wishing to challenge the process have from now p to the exhibition to do so.”
Mr. Musa Hassan Bility, one of the high-ranking stalwarts of the opposition Liberty Party was one of the first to raise the alarm of double registration on Facebook under the caption “Midday Midday!!!!!”.
He later wrote on Facebook: “NEC, you have dropped the ball. Violence and electoral fraud may delay this election. Please act now or remove yourselves”.
Montserrado County Senatorial aspirant, Mr. Bernard Benson, popularly known as DJ Blue described the process as fraudulent and has threatened to file an injunction on the entire voter roll update process.
Venting his fury, DJ Bue, a second-time contestant for Montserrado senatorial seat wrote on Facebook, “I’m filing an INJUNCTION on this FRAUDULENT process… Wha happen Naa. I can only Imagine the FRAUD here in Montserrado.”
The incumbent, Senator Abraham Darius Dillon told journalists on Monday that he stands with DJ Blue in filing an injunction on the process. He described the process which began on Friday as fraudulent and nothing good would come out of it.
“I’m calling on the Elections Commission to put an immediate halt to the ongoing voter roll update process. From what we are seeing, evidence in our possession, on social media, all in the public, in the media already, it is sufficient reason for the Elections to immediately halt the ongoing voter update process because it is a flawed start, it is fraudulent and no credible outcome can come out of what is already being done,” Sen. Dillon said.
Barely 24 hours before the issue of double registration could take the center stage of discussion on the voter roll update, voter trucking was under the spotlight. Several buses and trucks loaded beyond capacity were seen heading towards Bomi and Bong Counties when the exercise began.
For Dillon, the voter roll update process is “completely strange and out of the law” at the same time lamenting that the Elections Commission has not said a word to the public or shown any concern of the violation that is clearly ongoing.
Meanwhile, Mr. Luther Dean, the NEC Magistrate in Bomi County has confirmed reports of ongoing voter trucking of prospective voters in the county but says the NEC has not been able to establish those behind the trucking of voters.
“There is serious trucking in Bomi County but we haven’t been able to establish who is doing it. People are bringing trucks full with people,” he said.
A NEC Magistrate is the head of the head or Representation of the electoral body in Bomi County.
The “trucking of commercial voters” is now becoming a new phenomenon in the political dispensation of Liberia due to the failure of the National Elections Commission (NEC) to take concrete actions, or give a definite position on the issue of voters’ trucking.
Many politicians and potential electorates at times rely on the weakness or the spectator role being played by the NEC to engage in the act.
Politicians, particularly incumbent lawmakers who fear defeat as payback for their failure or inability to help improve the living conditions of their constituents are the ones mostly involved.
But the financial inducement of electorates does not necessarily guarantee the chances of a candidate winning in an election as evidenced by the defeat of scores of incumbent lawmakers, including Representatives and Senators during the conduct of the 2017 elections.
Speaking in an interview with FPA via telephone, the Director of Communications at the NEC, Mr. Henry Flomo, disclosed that the trucking of financially induced voters is against the electoral laws of Liberia.
When quizzed whether the Commission is aware or has received an official complaint of “commercial voters” being trucked into western Liberia, Mr. Flomo said: “nothing of such has been brought to my attention”.
He added that 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.
“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”.
“You may not know every community member, but you have the right to protest; and that person can be stopped right there. If that person feels uncomfortable, then we have a case right there. The law is there but the citizens are the first line of defense when it comes to that law”.
Article 1 of the 1986 Liberian Constitution states that: “All power is inherent in the people. All free governments are instituted by their authority and for their benefit and they have the right to alter and reform the same when their safety and happiness so require. In order to ensure a democratic government which responds to the wishes of the governed, the people shall have the right at such period and in such manner as provided for under this Constitution, to cause their public servants to leave the office and to fill vacancies by regular elections and appointments”.