The Chairman of the National Elections Commission, Cllr. Jerome George Korkoya terms a recent report by a local daily that the Commission is secretly issuing voter’s card to individuals as dangerous.
Addressing a news conference in Monrovia Friday, Chairman Korkoya notes that similar allegation has also been made by some political actors, dismissing it as “total falsehood and misleading.”
He says the NEC, in no uncertain terms, categorically denies these allegations, saying, “This story has no basis in fact; it is false and a dangerous attempt to undermine the electoral process and expose the Commission to disrepute.”
He explains that the commission does not operate in secrecy, as all of its operations are open and observed by independent observers.
Chairman Korkoya maintains that political actors also have right under the law to observe various aspects of the electoral process.He clarifies the replacement of lost or damaged voter’s cards is different from voter registration.
“Under voter registration, the Commission registers eligible Liberians at a particular point in time and issue them cards to vote in subsequent elections. For the replacement exercise, the Commission replaces voter’s cards for voters who have lost or damaged their cards. No new voter is added on the voter’s roll during a replacement exercise. While cards are issued during both exercises, the cards issued during replacement are marked “Replaced”, thereby making the cards they replaced unusable.”
He says under the law, as recorded in Section 3.5 (2) of the New Elections Law of Liberia, “In the event of loss or destruction of the registration card and after proof has been established, the Registrar shall issue a new card for a minimum fee of $5.00 to be paid in the Internal Revenue account.”
The NEC boss continues that for these by-elections, the Commission initially decided to go in strict adherence to the provision of the law on replacement and opened two replacement centers at the magisterial offices in Brewerville and Bensonville, respectively in Montserrado County, beginning Friday, June 21 through Tuesday, June 25, 2019.
“The Commission later extended the period to Thursday, June 27 and opened another center at the NEC Headquarters following our request to the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) to provide funds to cover the cost of replacing the cards. Our request to the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning stemmed from a huge outcry from the public to remove the fees and reduce the distance voters were to travel to replace their cards.”
He further details that at the close of the replacement exercise, the total number of replacement Identification cards issued was 1,649:573 from the Brewerville office; 337 from the Bensonville office and 739 at the NEC Headquarters respectively.
Korkoya assures Liberians that NEC, as has been its practice since 2005, is very strict in its adherence to the requirements of the law in that, only individuals who were proven to be on the original Final Registration Roll (FRR) of 2017, but had lost or damaged their voter’s cards were issued replacement cards.
“The Final Registration Roll of 2017 produced the following statistics: total number of registered voters in Liberia: 2,183,268; total number of registered voters in Montserrado: 778,291; total number of registered voters in District#15, 39,005; total number of precincts in Liberia; 2,080, total number of precincts in Montserrado: 488; and, total number of precincts in District #15, 31,” he explains.
He urges political parties and other stakeholders to also have in their possession a copy of the 2017 final voters’ roll of 2,183,268 registered voters nationwide, saying, “Under our law, political parties have the right to inspect or scrutinize the voters’ roll.”By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor- Editing by Jonathan Browne