By Jonathan Browne
The National Elections Commission says results it released from the June 28, 2022, senatorial by-election in Lofa County in which Independent Candidate Joseph Kpator Jallah was officially declared as winner reflect the turned out.
NEC Chairperson Davidetta Browne Lansanah explains that the results came from Lower and Upper Lofa, containing a total of 454 polling places in the entire county.
She says initial preliminary tallied results from 381 polling places, constituting 83.92 percent released on June 30, 2022, came from both Lower and Upper Lofa County, contrary to public perception that only one region was being reported.
She details that Upper Lofa reported a total of 30709 votes, representing 100 percent with valid votes at 29,472 and invalid votes totaling 1,237, while total votes that came from Lower Lofa were 31,810, representing 100 percent with valid votes at 30,922 and 888 invalid votes recorded.
“All of the records of the counts and the tallied results are a matter of public record, and we will make them available for journalists who are interested in viewing them”, Madam Browne-Lansanah assures.
However, the NEC Chair says any person who believes that official results from the senatorial by-election are different from what he or she has, may use legal means to challenge the process in keeping with Article 83(c) of the Constitution of Liberia.
The NEC on Friday, July 1, 2022, released final tallied results from the remaining 73 polling places in the county, constituting 100 percent of the total votes cast and declared Independent Candidate Joseph Kpator Jallah, who received 22,019 votes, representing 36.46 percent, as winner against opposition Unity Party Candidate Galakpai W. Kortimai with 21,229 votes or 35.15 percent of the total votes.
“With 100% of the polling places having been tallied, the Commission hereby declares Independent Candidate Jallah, Joseph Kpator as the winner of the 28 June 2022 senatorial By-election in Lofa County”, the NEC announced here on Friday.
Candidate Jallah was heavily supported by the ruling Congress for Democratic Change (CDC) which has been celebrating victory even before the official results were announced.
Six candidates including one female contested in the Lofa Senatorial By-election, but the race was tight between the CDC-endorsed candidate Jallah and Kortimai of the UP.
Prior to the preliminary results, the UP issued a statement in Monrovia, saying it would accept the results once the polls were considered free and fair.
The Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) deployed 168 observers in all five electoral districts of Lofa County to observe the by-election and noted that voters turned out peacefully on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, to vote with no serious critical incident.
It has commended all voters of Lofa in protecting the peace and democratic stability of Liberia during the senatorial by-election, adding that voting generally commenced on time in most of the observed polling places and all sensitive voting materials were present.
However, it reported that 48% of observed precincts and polling places were not accessible to people with disabilities or the elderly due to the use of stairs and pointed to inconsistencies in how NEC staff addressed issue of voters whose names were missing from the FRR.
“For instance, in 11% of polling places observed by the ECC, voters with valid voter cards but whose names were missing on the FRR were permitted to vote. In keeping with the NEC Polling and Counting Manual Chapter 4 of ‘Determining Who May Not Vote’ sub-section € states that “A person may not vote if she/he cannot be found in the voters’ roll”, ECC explained.