Amid poor start of last Wednesday’s (February 1, 2017) voter registration exercise across the country characterized by widespread criticism of incompetence of agents deployed in the field, the National Elections Commission or NEC has disclosed here that about one million Liberians have already registered.
Speaking to The New Dawn on Monday, 6 February in Monrovia, NEC Chairman Jerome George Kokorya said, Liberians are turning out in huge numbers to register in anticipation for the October elections.
He said the NEC had printed little over one million voter registration forms, but information available to him suggests that the forms are running out, and plans are underway to print additional forms.
Chairman Kokorya maintained that the exercise was proceeding smoothly despite initial challenges especially, malfunction of cameras, adding that Liberians are developing interest in the voter registration, something he terms as boost to the entire process.
According to the NEC boss, from what he’s reading, earlier projection of registering 2.5 million eligible voters might be exceeded, if all variables remain constant, and if stakeholders continued with the awareness of encouraging eligible voters to register.
Kokorya further indicated that the turnout so far has surprised the NEC Board of Commissioners and they pray that all eligible Liberians turnout for the process.
Addressing a joint news conference earlier alongside the Inspector General of Police, Col. Gregory Coleman, Chairman Kokorya said while Liberians are struggling to become part of the voting exercise, two citizens were arrested by the Intelligent Department of the Liberia National Police for allegedly purchasing 16 voters’ registration cards.
He narrated that with the help of the police, the two individuals were picked up for allegedly purchasing voters’ cards, an allegation the suspects reportedly denied.
According to Inspector General Gregory Coleman, the crimes investigation department of the police is still conducting its investigation and findings will be made available to the public.
Col. Coleman said when police asked the suspects, they claimed that the cards were given to them for safe keeping, adding that this was something the investigators strongly doubt. Investigators are yet to establish who allegedly gave the suspects the cards.
But the Police Chief said the crime violates Section 5.1 of the new electoral law with a penalty of 60 days incarceration or fines to be determined by a court of competent jurisdiction.
Commenting on the cameras crisis, Chairman Kokorya said the commission has already hired technicians from China, who are in Liberia working tirelessly to resolve the problem.
He said the United Nations Development Programmealso brought in technicians to help with the repairing process, disclosing out 15 political sub-divisions nine counties are free of camera’s crisis, while problems in the rest six will soon be resolved.
Written by E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor