Monrovia — The much anticipated Special Senatorial Elections (SSE) and National Referendum have come and gone but in the coming days voters across the country will be eagerly waiting for the results.
Because votes are counted by hand, and some parts of the country are hard to reach due to the bad road network, final results are expected to delay for about a week.
In the Senatorial elections, over 100 candidates are vying for 15 seats up for grasp, while there are eight propositions of the referendum including the reductions of the term of the President from six to five years; Senator from nine to seven years, Representative from six to five years, and dual citizenship.
These Propositions for amendment seek to affect Articles 45, 46, 47, 48 and 50 of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia.
Despite reports of irregularities and alleged fraud, the polls were peaceful and the turnout was impressive as all attention now shifts on the National Elections Commission (NEC) for the release of provisional results.
In Montserrado County, the nation’s most populous county, as well as other parts of Liberia, FrontPage Africa observed very long queues at many voting precincts.
There was, however, no health measures put in place at the voting precincts, though some voters were seen wearing masks.
Although the polls were considered peaceful, there were reports of several irregularities, including alleged voter fraud.
The Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC), a civil society platform comprising 30 organizations that observes all aspects of electoral processes in Liberia, including the 2020 SSE and Referendum, in its midday election-day press conference reported that polling precinct 30280 polling place #3 at the Messiah School System in Montserrado District #3, a voter who was initially issued two ballots (senatorial and referendum) later attempted to drop an extra senatorial ballot plus the referendum in the ballot box.
When asked where he got the extra senatorial ballots, he accused the ballot paper issuer of giving it to him. However, he was later turned over to the police for further investigation.
At precinct 30057, polling place #1 in Montserrado District #13, the ECC said that a voter attempted to take a picture of his marked ballot when the NEC officials intervened and discarded his ballot paper, something that caused tension at the polling place for about five minutes before the pressure was later quelled down and voting resumed.
Also at Precinct 30484, Polling place 06 in Montserrado District #5, Observer confirmed that ballot paper issuer issued eight referendum ballots to voters that had four of the eight prepositions missing before realizing the error.
When the observer was contacted about the name of the polling place, he confirmed that the venue was an unfinished building.
Another shocking incident also happened in Monrovia when two men, Prince Roberts and Trokon Davies were arrested for being in possession of one hundred voter ID cards in 19th Street Sinkor.
Speaking to FrontPage Africa, Spoon FM Reporter, James Goodday Flomo, who broke the news, explained that he received a phone call from residents of the 19th Street community that there were men in the community distributing Voter ID to people in the community.
According to him, he disguised himself on the advice of the residents and sought the assistance of a police officer. They were taken to the Police headquarters and are currently in the custody of the police.
also in its second press statement on Election Day, the Covid-19 Election Monitoring and Violence Prevention Situation Room (CEMViP-SR), otherwise known as the Situation Room said report from its over 700 field reporters confirmed that polls in some electoral districts such as Tappita and Ganta in Nimba County started lately; and in some areas such as Foya and Quardu-Gboni Districts in Lofa County, Cestos City in River Cess County and Tappita City, Nimba County, the process was marred by poor turnout of eligible voters.
In another incident, the situation Room reported that some youth of Normon-Datono Town in Kongba District seized election ballot boxes upon the instruction of elders.
FrontPage Africa gathered that vast majority of the electorates had little or no idea on the national referendum.
FPA reporters covering the elections in Bomi County spoke with several voters who lamented that no awareness was made on the process and not a single sample paper of the referendum was distributed to eminent citizens, including chiefs, elders and community chairpersons prior to the voting, to educate their people on the referendum.
“My son, we don’t know nothing about the referendum; your will teach us or the people inside there will teach us how to do it,” Hawa Kallon, 45, stated.
Jackson Ballah, 57, states: “I only know about big umbrella, small umbrella-big chair and small chair on the referendum paper. But I don’t even know the meaning of it. If they can’t help or tell us the meaning of it inside there-for me, I will not vote for anything call referendum”.
FPA’s reporters also observed that poll workers were catching hell in educating or providing information to voters on the national referendum.
At the various polling precincts visited, inkers and other poll workers tasked with other responsibilities also busied themselves helping to sensitize the electorates on the referendum.
Some poll workers are imploring additional means or options to ensure that the voters partake in the national referendum.
“My brother, it is not easy. Everybody coming is asking questions on the referendum. We are doing multiple jobs at the same time we are educating them, but if you do not still understand-we allow you to bring someone you trust-either your daughter, son, brother or sister-to explain to you before you go to cast your vote”, a Presiding Officer at one of the precincts who spoke on condition of anonymity said.