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Dec 16, 2014: High Voter’s Apathy Possible

Whether or not the deadly Ebola virus disease is eradicated, there is an uncompromising possibility for the holding of the Mid Term Senatorial Election in Liberia before the end of the year. Even though the National Elections Commission or NEC is continuing its consultations with electoral stakeholders in the country, indications are that its recommended date of December 16, 2014 for the conduct of the election will indeed stand.

Probably convinced by ‘whatever justifications’ the NEC may have provided during separate consultations with them, Liberian political parties, independent candidates, youth, student, as well as religious and civil society groups and other electoral stakeholders are already in concurrence with the December 16 date suggested by the commission.

No doubt, NEC’s suggested date and justifications may have been heavily influenced by the ardent desire of  Chief Executive Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and the Liberian Legislature for the election to be held before the end of the  year as evidenced by their respective mandates to the commission to “hold consultations with all recognized and accredited political parties, independent candidates, and civil society organizations and other stakeholders, as well as national and international health authorities on a new date for holding the Special Senatorial Election.”

The commission may have also been convinced by a presentation made on Tuesday, October 14, 2014  by Liberian Health |Ministry authorities  on the state of the Ebola virus disease across Liberia, with the objective of providing information to be used in the planning the electoral process. In other words, there may not either be Ebola by that time or the rate of the outbreak may be very low.

In view of the foregoing, nearly all of the groups emphasized the need for flexibility in the process, especially in the event of a renewal of the Ebola crisis towards December 20, 2014; in consonance with the foregoing, the election should be held on the date recommended by the commission in counties reporting lower risks of the deadly Ebola disease, while the process be suspended in those reporting high infection level of the Virus.

If and only if the indefinite suspension of the Mid Term Senatorial Election in Liberia until Ebola is completely done with may result to a constitutional crisis and cause an embarrassment to the country’s governance process as may be perceived by the Executive and Legislative Branches of the Liberian Government, so must the process go ahead as mandated. But a situation that may heavily characterize the process is ‘voter’s apathy’- truly voter’s apathy will be high. One primary reason is fear among the population of contracting disease/virus from others who may be coming from ‘counties with high risks’ to vote in ‘counties with low risks’.

While the issue of hold the election before the end of 2014 may or may not be something to oppose, it is no secret that Ebola will still be a threat to the well-being of Liberian voters. And if the mandate of Liberian leaders must be implemented, as it is already been done by the National Elections Commission with the consent of almost all of the electoral stakeholders, including political parties, independent candidates and civil society groups, there is no further cause argue. But the issue of high voter’s apathy must not be ruled out.

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