Liberia: Elections Commission Allegedly Giving Out Voter’s ID Secretly after Replacement Deadline
MONROVIA – The indefinite postponement of the Monteserrado County by-elections raised several qualms among candidates, especially those of the opposition, but what is even more troubling now is the report of surreptitious registration of voters at the National Elections Commission (NEC).
Report by Lennart Dodoo, [email protected]
The replacement of lost voter’s ID for the by-election at the cost of US$5 originally ended on June 25, 2019. However, after an intervention from the Government, the NEC extended the deadline to June 27. The Government opted to pay for all those seeking replacement of their lost voter’s ID during the extended period.
The extended period witnessed the unprecedented influx of citizens wanting to replace lost voter’s IDs. Some were driven to the NEC in buses – something that raised cause for concern.
The Chairman of the former ruling Unity Party, Wilmot Paye, raised issue with NEC over with the extension and the payment of the US$5.00 requirement for the replacement of the voters ID.
In his suspicion, he believes that Government used the two-day extended period to troop in their supporters from other parts of the country to swell their Monrovia-based numerical strength to win District 15 and the Senatorial election.
Paye made his suspicion known on June 27 during a program marking pledge of support from staff of the Legislature to Abraham Darius Dillon, the Liberty Party candidate in the senatorial race. Dillon has the support of the collaborating opposition political parties which include the Unity Party, Alternative National Congress, All Liberian Party and the Liberty Party.
Paye said at the time, “Two days ago, the NEC invited political parties and at that meeting Chairman Korkoyah informed us that there has been no time in a given by-election when people replacing lost cards have ever exceeded hundred persons.”
“But as we speak, people are trooping at NEC; a new form of voters registration is taking place. You heard President Weah say on Saturday as long as he’s President, Dillon will never win elections. I am not concerned about that statement because of what he said, but there is a reason we are speaking because that statement was a direct instruction to NEC. Fortunately for us, some commissioners have already started to express concerns.”
Impeccable sources within the NEC informed FrontPageAfrica that up to yesterday, Monday, July 8, 2019, the NEC was secretly issuing voters IDs at the Headquarters.
“The National Elections Commission is allowing secret registration of people at its headquarters today. We’ve witnessed the bussing of people particularly from District 15 this morning to the headquarters of the NEC for registration,” FPA was informed.
Abraham Darius Dillon also being suspicious of secret registration at the NEC, posted to Facebook: “NEC/Jerome Korkoya, be mindful of what you do during these elections. The life of the birds is in your hands. Remember, the time for the replacement of lost/damaged voter’s ID is over. We are watching the new influx. We will not take kindly to any conspiracy.”
Mr. Henry Flomo, Director of Communications at the NEC, denied the allegation. He said, the extended period for replacing lost IDs long elapsed and the NEC has been turning people away.
“Even today, people came to replace lost voters ID, but we sent them back because that process is over,” he told FrontPageAfrica when contacted for comments.
According to Flomo, the political parties participating in the by-election were given a preliminary figure of over one thousand people who went for replacement of lost Voters ID. He said, a final figure would be announced when the tally is completed.
He added explained that initially the replacement was being done at two magisterial centers – Bensonville and Bentol – for the replacement. It was, however, the headquarters at 9th Street, Sinkor, Monrovia which is more accessible was added for the two-day grace period.
“I would think because our headquarters being situated in central town that helped for people to easily… to even access our own building was very difficult… that could be the reason for the influx of people at our headquarters,” he explained.
He further explained that making the process free could be a contributing factor to the influx of people during the replacement exercise. He said, other also thought living in Montserrado County now, despite originally registering in Margibi for example, qualified them for getting a new voters ID. “A lot of people were sent back,” he said.
He insisted that the since the process ended on June 27, no one has been issued an ID.
“I want to emphasize that that process ended on the 27 of June, we are not replacing cards anymore; even today people came and we told them we’re not replacing cards, elections is timeline,” Flomo told FrontPageAfrica.
Korkoya Running One-Man Show?
The Chairman of the Commission, Cllr. Jerome Korkoya, is reportedly making unilateral decisions as far as the by-election is concerned, FPA was informed by sources close to Board of Commissioners.
“All the commissioners did not agree on decision to change the date of election. It was done by Korkoyah unilaterally. There was heated argument amongst them.
He’s doing a lot of funny things that is pissing the other commissioners off,” the source said.
However, Mr. Flomo clarified that the decision to postpone the by-election was endorsed by the Board of Commissioners and the press release announcing the postponement was approved by acting chair, Cllr. Sara Toe.
In said release, the NEC announced that pre-packed kits had not arrived into the country and had made the by-elections impossible to be conducted as was scheduled.
The press release disclosed that a full consignment of one million forty-six thousand, one hundred (1,046,100) ballot papers are currently in the country. The ballot papers, including tactile ballot guides, forms, and record of the counts, arrived over the weekend at the RIA and were received by authorities of the Commission, along with the Liberia National Police, and taken to a secure location under LNP maximum protection.
Of the total ballot papers, nine hundred and ninety-three thousand, eight hundred and fifty (993,850) will be used for the senatorial by-election, while fifty-two thousand, two hundred and fifty (52,250) will be used for the representative by-election.