“Dangerous attempt!” -NEC Chides Opposition for Accusation

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National Elections Commission (NEC) Chairman, Cllr. Jerome Korkoyah, has characterized as “false and misleading” accusations levied against the institution that the commission, in association with the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change, was issuing voter’s registration cards beyond the June 27 deadline.

Chairman Korkoya said opposition accused that cards were allegedly issued to truck CDCians, with a focus to manipulate the electoral process.

Addressing a news conference at the headquarters of NEC, Cllr. Korkoya categorically denied the allegations, stating that the story has absolutely no basis. “The statement is false and it is a dangerous attempt to undermine the electoral process and expose the commission to disrepute”, NEC boss dismissed the allegation.

He said, “No new voter card was added during the stipulated period of the replacement process”, saying, the Commission refused to issue replacement of VR Cards to people who trooped in beyond the due date.

NEC is quoted as saying, “The initial deadline for replacement of voting cards was on June 25. However, due to government’s intervention to shoulder the cost of reproducing missing and damaged voting cards as per law, the Commission added a two-day’s grace period which lasted from June 26-27, 2019.”

The replacement of exclusively lost or damaged VR Cards is enshrined in section 3.5 of the new election law of Liberia. Section 3.5 of the election law states, “In the event of loss or destruction of registration card, and after proof has been established, the registrar shall issue a new card for a minimum fee of $5.00 USD to be paid in the internal revenue”.

The National Elections Commission challenged stakeholders and Politicians to desist from acts that will undermine the Country’s fragile democracy, which will also unnecessarily instigate chaos in the Society.

Chairman Korkoya maintained that the NEC remains committed to transparent and accountable operations in serving the Liberian people in the execution of its constitutional mandate to conducting free, fair and transparent elections at all times.

In a related development, Cllr. Korkoya has announced the continuation of campaign activities until the pronouncement of a new date for the Montserrado County by-elections.

Meanwhile, a Press Statement of July 12, 2019 posted on the Liberian Media Professional quoting the National Elections Commission Cllr. Jerome G. Korkoya on Allegation of Secretly Issuing Voter’s Cards gave a series propositions.

According to the statement, on Tuesday, July 9, 2019, a newspaper reported that the NEC is secretly issuing voter’s card to individuals. Similar allegation has also been made by some political actors and that the NEC, in no uncertain terms, categorically denies these allegations.  “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,” the statement said.

The statement also said the National Elections Commission does not operate in secrecy; all of its operations are open and observed by independent observers. Political actors also have the right under our laws to observe various aspects of the electoral process.  “The Commission would like to clarify that the replacement of lost or damaged voter’s cards is different from voter registration,” the statement contained.

Under voter registration, the Commission said it registered 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 roll during a replacement exercise,” it emphasized.

“While cards are issued during both exercises, the cards issued during replacement are marked “Replaced”, thereby making the cards they replaced unusable. “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,’”

The state intoned that some voters do not take advantage of this right saying that in the Commission’s effort to encourage increased participation, the NEC usually, during elections time, replace lost or damaged voter’s card free of charge, depending on the availability of resources. It may interest you to know that the actual cost of each voter’s card, considering all the operational and administrative factors, is around US$20.00.

“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 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.”

The NEC said its request to the Ministry of Finance & Development Planning (MFDP) stemmed from a huge outcry from the public to remove the fees and reduce the distance voters were to travel to replace their cards, adding that following the extension of the replacement period, the removal of fees, and the opening of an additional replacement center here at Headquarters, there was an unexpected and overwhelming influx of citizens to the Headquarters demanding replacement of their cards and many even expected to register as new voters. “Those requesting to register as new voters were denied in keeping with law,” the NEC said

Accordingly, the National Election Commission said at the close of the replacement exercise, the total number of replacement ID cards issued was 1,649: 573 from the Brewerville office; 337 from the Bensonville office and 739 here at NEC Headquarters. Even up to the time of this press conference, citizens continue to come here to ask for replacement of their cards but they have been turned away due to the expiration of the deadline and the fact that the NEC has to print the voter roll in time for the by-elections.

“Ladies and gentlemen of the press, let me assure you that the NEC, as has been its practice since 2005, was 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 press statement published in the Liberian Media Professional said.

The NEC said the Final Registration Roll of 2017 produced the following statistics to the effect of a total number of registered voters in Liberia amounting to 2,183,268; total number of registered voters in Montserrado being 778,291; total number of registered voters in District # 15 standing at 39,005; total number of precincts in Liberia at 2,080; total number of precincts in Montserrado amounting to 488 and total number of precincts in District #15” being 31.

“Qualified voters are assigned to precincts based on these facts and the replacement exercise has not and will not cause any change in this statistics. Political party and other stakeholders also have in their possession a copy of the 2017 final voters’ roll of 2,183,268 registered voters nationwide. Under our law, political parties have the right to inspect or scrutinize the voters’ roll; and pursuant to the mandate of the Supreme Court, the voters’ roll for each of the 488,” the NEC said through its chairman.

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