Elections Coordinating Committee Expresses Concerns over NEC’s Selective Voter Replacement Exercise Ahead of Lofa Senatorial By-election

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Monrovia – Ahead of the hotly contested senatorial election in Lofa County, the Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) has alarmed over the decision of the National Elections Commission (NEC) to only conduct the lost and damaged voter identification card exercise in only two of the five electoral districts in Lofa County including Kolahun and Voinjama.

The NEC conducted its lost and damaged voter card replacement exercise in March 2022.  Making reference to a report, the ECC said the decision to leave three districts out of the process did not only denied eligible voters who wished to replace their lost or damaged voter cards, but it has the potential to create tension on Election Day.

“The ECC believes that to conduct the process in these two locations means other citizens who wished to replace their lost or damaged voter cards were denied the opportunity to do so,” the ECC said in the statement.

“It is also not clear to the ECC the rationale or criteria used by the NEC in selecting the two districts as against the other three districts. The replacement of lost and damaged voter cards in two districts has the potential to create tension on Election Day and could heighten a situation that is already politically charged.”

In the release, the group announced that it has deployed 168 domestic election observers in all of the five electoral districts of Lofa County to observe the Tuesday, June 28 by-election to increase public confidence in the electoral process and its outcome.

The ECC is the largest civil society platform that observes elections in Liberia and is comprised of several pro-democracy organizations.

Center for Democratic Governance (CDG); Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP) and the Center for Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding (CECPAP).

Other member organizations include the Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD); Naymote Partners for Democratic Development; the West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP), and the Women’s NGO Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL).

It works in partnership with Democracy International with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Election Day Observation Methodology

According to the ECC, of the 168 observers, 162 will be deployed at specific voting precincts throughout the Election Day to report on the opening, set-up, voting, closing, counting and tabulation of results.

The ECC added that this deployment methodology will enable it to comment on the process by drawing on data points from every district within the county; adding that five observers have been deployed as Electoral District Supervisors and one County Coordinator who will roam to observe the general electoral environment; while at the same time supervising the activities of the precinct observers and reporting critical incidents whenever they occur.

Excerpt: “All the observers were trained to use an observation checklist and critical incidence forms that covers all the procedures of polling and counting. The ECC has also established a Data Information Center (DIC) in Monrovia where 16 trained data clerks will receive observation reports on the opening of polls, voting and closing.”

It continued: “ECC will produce a mid-day report on June 28, 2022 on the opening and set up of polling as well as a final press conference on June 30, 2022 on the voting and closing of the polls.”

Polls dubbed Two-horse race

The ‘controversial’ Senatorial election was created after Lofa County Senator-elect Brownie Samukai was denied by the Supreme Court from occupying his seat following a Writ of Prohibition filed March 2, 2021, by O’Neil Passewe, chair of the Movement for Progressive Change (MPC).

Passewe asked the High Court to halt the certification of Samukai because he has been convicted by the Supreme Court for the crime of money laundering.

Seven candidates are opting to fill the seat that left vacant since 2020. But observers say the race is between the opposition Unity Party’s candidate Galakpai Kortima, who once served as Superintend of the county and Independent Candidate Cllr. Joseph Jallah who is heavily backed by the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC).

The election is viewed as a litmus test for the UP, headed by the County’s favorite and pre-eminent son, former Vice President Joseph Nyumah Boakai and the CDC. The ruling party, through its stalwarts including Montserrado District #5 Representative Thomas Fallah continue to made huge investment in the county in their bid to turn the tide in their party’s favor comes 2023 presidential and legislative elections.

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