37,107 Invalid Votes Recorded In Liberia’s Polls


By Josephus Moses Gray
Monrovia, Liberia



The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
October 18, 2005


In the wake of the counting and tallying of ballots from the October 11 polls by the National Elections Commission (NEC), two multi-national institutions, who are monitoring these elections have expressed their concern about the persistent increased of invalid votes.

The two organizations, the European Commission Bi-Lateral Elections Program (EC Bi-Lateral) and the Liberian Council of Churches (LCC) as of date termed the 37,107 invalid votes which constitute about 3.8% of the total votes counted so far as “alarming”. They made these disclosures during two separate press conferences. The EC Bi-Lateral spoke of the issue in an interim statement while the LCC indicated the same concern at a press conference held last week at its headquarters in Sinkor.

Bishop Sumoward Harris, President of the LCC noted that his organization carried out what he termed as non-party voters’ educations but insisted that some of the reasons for the huge number of invalid votes cast are also due to the failure of political parties to sufficiently educate their partisans about the process.

In his remarks at the LCC news briefing, Bishop Harris indicated that the LCC’s seven hundred (700) deployed local and eighteen (18) International Ecumenical Observers in seven of the fifteen political sub- divisions of Liberia noticed at their assigned 400 polling stations that poll workers provided assistance to illiterate and disabled voters.

The EC Bi-Lateral for their part observed that some of the responsibilities of the invalid votes were due to problems of illiteracy and lack of familiarity with voting.

According to them some of the voters had difficulty identifying their candidates on the ballot or understanding exactly how to vote while others also had difficulty understanding the explanations given them by the ballot paper issuer.
However, the EC Bi lateral is recommending investment in long term education to increase familiarity with voting processes.

The EC Bi-Lateral had 640 locally recruited observers in Bomi, Bong, Lofa, Maryland, Margibi, Grand Bassa and Montserrado County. Groups that comprised this body include the Association of Disabled female International (ADFI), Collaboration of Churches in Bong (COCB), Equipping Youth To Help One Another (EQUIP); Justice and Peace Commission (JPC); Lutheran Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Program (LTHRP) and the Resource Center for Community Empowerment and Integrated Development (RCCEID).

Their mission was to evaluate in selected locations the extent to which the elections were free, fair and inclusive; and to issue an interim statement and subsequent recommendations based on collated observation report.

The LCC on the other hand, providing an over all evaluation of the process noted its satisfaction with the orderliness and peacefulness of the voting process especially the resilience, tolerance and patience exhibited by voters, particularly the youth, pregnant women, baby mothers and the elderly.

This turnout and peaceful demonstration of Liberians on elections day, the LCC stressed, give a clear and undoubting indication of Liberians’ commitment to usher in democratization recovery.

The LCC congratulated its ecumenical partners including; the Evangelical Development Service (EED-Germany) through the Fellowship of Christian Councils in West Africa (FECCIWA), Church World Service (USA), Finn Church Aid, the Evangelical Church of USA, the United Church of Christ (USA), and the World Council of Churches.