Lack Of Queue Controllers Leave Several Voters Out In Nimba
By Ishmael F. Menkor
Lack of queue controllers at polling places across in Nimba County in the October 10 2023 Presidential and Legislative elections was said to have slowed the entire election process in Nimba, allegedly denying several voters from voting.
Some of the voters told the Daily Observer in Ganta there was nobody to direct them, thus leaving them out of the voting process as they were not able to cast their votes.
“I came early in the morning, but nobody was available to guide me and as I got closer to the polling place to cast my ballot, I was directed to another polling place,” said Daniel Weiss, a first-time voter.
“Before I could get to the next polling place I directed to where I should have voted, but it was late as it had passed the hour to vote so I could not vote anymore,” he added.
“I felt denied to exercise my voting rights for the first time, because nobody was there to guide me in the process,” he said.
Across the voting centers in Nimba, there were too much confusion because there were no queue controllers to direct voters in getting into the right queues sooner to cast their ballots.
“They have been sending me from one queue to another since this morning and the last polling place, the presiding officer told me they were closed, so l was left out in disappointment,” said an elderly man.
“I came and went straight in the line, but nobody came to direct me or even asked us or to take our voting card and show us where to vote,” said 42yr old Cynthia Williams at Vision Academy Campus on Guinea Road in Ganta.
“But, when the police officer took me to where I was supposed to vote, it was already late and closed,” she said.
In the Buu -Yao region, many voters left the polling place frustrated, because they had to move from queue to queue in search of their right polling places where their names were listed to vote, but unfortunately the voting time expired.
“They left pushing us from room to room, until the voting time finished,” said a caller from Gblarlay.
“More than 50 voters couldn’t vote because of the too much delay process at polling places by the NEC Workers,” Theresa Bargue, a resident of Gblarlay told the Daily Observer via mobile phone.
Gblarlay is situated about 45 minutes from the Ivory Coast Border in the eastern part of Nimba.
In one of the precincts in the town called Gruzanplay in Nimba District 5, the alleged queue frustration led to disruption of one of the polling places, where one of the ballot boxes was seized.
The Election Supervisor, commonly known as ‘ES’ of the precinct told the paper that a group of men violently entered one of the polling places complaining of omitting the letters ‘Y and W’ from the voter roll and seized one of the boxes.
‘ES’ Peter Kialin said the incident happened when they were already through with the voting process.
The polling process this election season was classified by many as being ‘complicated’, especially for those who could not read or write.
For instance, at some polling places, the instructions were like, all initials beginning from ‘K to Mo’ should go to that window or those with ‘Mu to O’ as no one was there to guide or direct them early.
But the polling staff would wait until the voters reached the polling place before telling them ‘You are not to vote here’.
In some of the polling places, there were four to five polling staffs, indicating, there were shortage of manpower.
Meanwhile, the Upper Nimba County Election Magistrate, Mr. Milton Paye refuted the claims and stated there were queue controllers, but couldn’t provide more details regarding why some voters could not find their way through until the voting time expired.
On his part, the Lower Nimba County Election Magistrate, Asanto Lepkpor also denied inaccessibility of the queues. He said there were more staffs to contain the queues, even though Lower Nimba did not experience these hurdles as compared to upper Nimba.
However, those citizens and residents in Nimba County who were affected by the lack of adequate queue controllers thus denying them the right to exercise their respective civil liberties to vote, told this paper that they cannot take legal action against the National Elections Commission (NEC) for being denied but want to recommend that in the future let the NEC deploy adequate poll workers so that every Liberian can exercise their democratic rights.