UPP Writes NEC, Rejecting Two ‘VR Rolls’

MacDonald Wento, Presidential candidate of the UPP

The United People’s Party (UPP) written the Chairman and Members of the Board of Commissioners of the National Elections Commission of Liberia (NEC), rejecting the idea of having what the party said ‘appears to be two general voter registration rolls for the 2017 presidential and legislative elections’.

The Party noted that on Wednesday, September 20, 2017, the Chairman of NEC convened a special sitting of the Inter-Party Coordination Committee (IPCC) and announced the release of the 2017 general voter registration roll for each registration center.  NEC has reported on its website that 2,183,629 citizens have been registered to vote in the 2017 elections.

While announcing the release of the 2017 VOTER REGISTRATION ROLL, the NEC Chairman cautioned that the names of some individuals who might present their voter cards may not appear on the general voter registration roll at some polling places. In such cases, the Chairman explained, NEC elections staff at the precincts have been given a special cell phone number – 1847 – to verify the status of the card. He went on to clarify that if the person at the other end of the line confirms that the card is valid, the cardholder will be permitted to vote.

The United People’s Party vehemently objects to this new procedure. UPP contends that it is not aware of any provision in the Elections Law of Liberia that provides for remote verification of voters.  Chairman Korkoyah’s “1847” voter verification concept amounts to a dual-voter roll system. The Party believes that a person’s eligibility to vote through remote confirmation is unlawful in Liberia.

UPP recalls that during the voter registration process which began in February of this year, there were reports of illegal registration venues; at least one of which was discovered. The actual numbers of such illegal registration activities, and the extent to which voter registration materials might have been illegally accessed are yet to be determined.

In view of the above, the United People’s Party is asking the NEC to state, categorically, whether there exist a credible 2017 VOTER REGISTRATION ROLL or not.

Members of the United People’s Party, in their 44-year history of struggle for multi-party democratic Liberia, have not been silent on transgression of the law by government officials; neither will we be complacent in the face of glaring attempt to ignore international best practice as it relates to free, fair, transparent and credible elections.

History reminds us that it is dangerous when suspicion and doubt surround an election. Doubts concerning credibility of the 1985 elections resulted in unspeakable horror.  Therefore, conduct of credible elections in Liberia must be taken seriously, considering the high price the people of Liberia have paid in the aftermath of the 1985 elections.

If, for any reason whatsoever, the National Elections Commission of Liberia (NEC) is unable to produce and publish a credible “general voter registration roll” for the 2017 presidential and legislative elections, as required by Sections 3.4 and 3.6 of the New Elections Law (Amended 2003, 2004, and 2014, codified by the Ministry of Justice and published by the National Elections Commission in September 2016); we, the United People’s Party (UPP), propose that the current election process should be halted and steps taken to avoid chaos and a possible constitutional crisis.

Considering Liberia’s recent history, no election should be conducted in this country without a credible voter roll, a press release signed by Michael George, the Secretary General of the UPP concluded.

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About Cholo Brooks 15636 Articles
Joel Cholo Brooks is a Liberian journalist who previously worked for several international news outlets including the BBC African Service. He is the CEO of the Global News Network which publishes two local weeklies, The Star and The GNN-Liberia Newspapers. He is a member of the Press Union Of Liberia (PUL) since 1986, and several other international organizations of journalists, and is currently contributing to the South Africa Broadcasting Corporation as Liberia Correspondent.