Liberia: Ruling Coalition for Democratic Change Takes Elections Commission, Rep. Snowe to Supreme Court over Alleged Electoral Fraud
MONROVIA – The ruling Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) has taken the National Elections Commission (NEC) and Senator-elect of Bomi County, Edwin Snowe, to court over alleged wide spread electoral fraud and irregularities across over 30 polling places in the county.
The CDC has, therefore, petitioned the Supreme Court to prohibit the NEC from certifying Senator-elect Snowe who has already been declared winner of the senatorial election in the county until their complaint which has already been heard and adjudged by the NEC independent hearing officer is decided by the Board of Commissioner and possibly, the Supreme Court.
Among its litany of complaint, the CDC alleged that several tally sheets bearing Grand Gedeh County instead of Bomi was discovered in the county. The tally sheets marked Grand Gedeh with voting precinct CH Dewey District #1 Polling place 1 center code: 033071 and voting precinct Malema Town District #2 Polling place 1 center code 0304 had on them results inserted for nine candidates while there were only five candidates in Bomi County.
“How possible would senatorial candidates from Grand Gedeh County become part of senate record of the count for senatorial candidates for Bomi County which constitutes gross irregularities and fraud,” the CDC averred in the complaint.
According to the ruling party whose candidate in the Bomi senatorial race was J. Alex Tyler, they also discovered that several Senate record of the count exceeded the total distribution of ballot papers per polling place.
The CDC cited a voting precinct Gbah Jeh-keh, District #1 polling place 4, center code: 03006 which used 163 ballot papers while the unused, spoiled and discarded ballot papers were 550 – bringing it to a total of 713 instead of the 550 reportedly supplied to the center by the NEC.
The complaint further noted that there were similar irregularities in the reconciliation of the ballot paper reportedly supplied and the number of used, unused, spoiled and discarded ballot papers at a number of other polling places including voting precinct Barmo Palava hut District #1 polling center 1, code 03002; Nyoundee Town Hall, District #2 polling place 1, center code 03007; Geveh Fahncee District 2 polling place 1; Mary Camp District 1, Sackie Town, District 1, polling place 1, center code 03042.
The ruling party also stated that another irregularity that appeared on the face of the senate record of count show that voting precinct Red Hill Palaver Hut District #1, polling place 1, center code 03047, ballot cast were 409, zero unused, spoiled, discarded totaling 409 instead of the 550. They also alleged that during the tallying of the results, the ballot boxes seal were broken without authorization from their representative which necessitated a recount leading to their candidate “obtaining four votes which was the actual votes which were said to have been obtained during the physical counting of the votes cast, petitioner’s votes were inflated to 41”.
“Additionally, on the tally sheet of the same polling place 139 [ballot papers] were discovered in the ballot box instead of 409, difference of 270 ballot papers,” the complaint stated.
The CDC contended that the NEC decided not to conduct a free, fair and transparent elections because their representative and Rep. Snowe’s representative that were in the tally room on December 9 consented that two of the ballot boxes had multiple problems and should be therefore quarantined and was quarantined. However, the NEC went on to tally the results without the knowledge of the CDC.
According to the CDC, in addition inconsistency in reconciling the ballot papers, they also observed multiple colored stamps on the Senate count record and the multiple use of correction fluid which is against the NEC regulations.
“Petitioner says total polling places that were occasioned by massive fraud, irregularities, alterations and discrepancies were 45 and multiplying 45 polling places by 500 votes per each polling place will yield the product of 22,500 votes. Petitioner says that it is worthy to note that if any one of the candidates fairly and accurately obtained half of the total votes in the December 8, 2020 Special Senatorial Elections will become true and uncontestable winner.”
‘Flaws’ of the Allegations
The Independent Hearing Officer at the NEC after entertaining arguments and the reviewing the evidence made available observed that CDC’s lawyer could not specifically show that said irregularities, flaws and illegalities resulted to the defeat of their candidate.
The hearing officer noted that the lawyers representing the CDC failed to show physical and documentary evidence to prove the allegations outlined in their 13-count complaint.
The Hearing Officer: “Charges of this magnitude require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here. The complainant failed to present evidence of misconduct by the elections administration in Bomi County, illegal votes or that the top vote getter in Bomi County special senatorial election did not receive the highest number of votes, let alone establish any degree of fraud or sufficient error rate that would undermine the certainty of the December 8, special senatorial elections results in Bomi County. The facts revealed that there were not any mishandled ballots, voter persuasion or inadequate observation of counting in Bomi.”
The Hearing Officer noted that it would, therefore, be an unprecedented exercise of quasi-judicial activism to stop the certification process of the winner of the election by setting aside results are prayed for by the CDC.
The Hearing Officer further contended that having reviewed the exhibits containing 27 pieces of Senate record of the count presented to establish proof of grave irregularities and illegalities, found no evidence, link or relevance of the documents submitted as proof to substantiate the allegations. “The complainant did not prove under any standard of proof that illegal voters were counted due to voter fraud. They failed to offer any basis for a prayer to annul the results of the December 8, 2020 special senatorial election in Bomi County.”
Involving the Supreme Court
The Board of Commissioners of the NEC is yet to hear the appeal filed by Mr. Tyler and the CDC, however, the ruling party has petitioned the Supreme Court to put a stay on the certification of Mr. Snowe who, according to the NEC, won the election in a landslide victory.
The Supreme Court, in response to their petition, has cited all parties including the NEC, CDC, Tyler and Rep. Snowe to appear for a conference on Wednesday, December 30, 2020 before Associate Justice Joseph Nagbe.
Meanwhile, Associate Justice Sie-A-Nyene G. Youh who was supposed to have handled the petition in chambers informed the Chief Justice on December 22 of her recusal from the case because Mr. Snowe is her spouse.