BFF and Partners Issue Runoff Assessment Report -Give Reasons for Low turnout

MONROVIA: The Better Future Foundation, BFF, in collaboration with Partners for Democracy and Good Governance, PdG, on Tuesday, 14, November, deployed 117 of its election observers to 13 of Liberia’s 15 Counties aimed at monitoring the Tuesday, 14, November, 2023 Presidential runoff election.

The runoff election involved incumbent President George Weah of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change, CDC, and former Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai of the former ruling Unity Party, UP.

In this brief Assessment Report, BFF and its collaborating partners, seek to outline some of the Challenges observed during the polling process, Findings and subsequently advanced some Recommendations relative to the Presidential Runoff elections which were effectively characterized by Low Voters Turnout.

This brief assessment report also pinpoints the causative factors, which among others, account for the widely noticed low turnout in the crucial presidential runoff polls.

We gathered on the day of polling that the low turnout of electorate in the second round of the 2023 elections across the Liberian Nation occurred largely among ‘first time voters’ and young people who constitute the vast majority of the country’s voting population.

Interestingly, the runoff polls witnessed the participation of the elderly, the physically challenged and other disadvantaged citizens.

In many polling places, it was observed that some voters who visibly are faced with ill-health conditions, were accompanied to various polling centers by family members and other associates to cast their ballot in exercise of their democratic right to decide the leadership of the country for the next six years. Their decision was welcomed by onlookers who call the move as demonstration of high sense of patriotism.

Other empirical factors that led to the low turnout as gathered from electoral stakeholders are stipulated below.

Loss of enthusiasm for the run-off:

Many voters anticipated a one-round victory for the major contenders of the 10, October, 2023 Presidential and legislative elections as they were made to believe by their respective political parties and leaders.

However, none of the 20 Presidential candidates in the October 10, 2023 Presidential election could not obtain 50 % plus one of the total valid votes cast as required by the 1986 constitution of Liberia to be declared a winner on first ballot.

Our observers further noted low spirited voters in the second round of the 2023 elections in Liberia unlike the in the first round of the elections that experienced high turnout and a lively voting atmosphere. This begs the question- “What must have gone wrong?”

Voter fatigue:

BFF and Partners also observed that voter fatigue contributed to the poor turnout. The first round of the polls, with all its enthusiasm and lively spirit, provided a very challenging and hectic electoral process. Hence, the fear of many electorates having the same unfavorable experiences.

Unholy Political Alignments and Realignments:

Since the end of the first round of the polls, and moving towards the crucial Presidential runoff, political leaders and their foot soldiers have desecrated the sanctity of Liberian democracy as well-meaning citizens at home and abroad watched their brazen and shameless display of political theatrics, inconsistencies and contradictions.

The purported influential and visionary politicians, to the disdain of many Liberians, acted in multiple ways and manners that not only effectively undermined their integrity and credibility but also left many electorates completely uncertain about the actors’ actual political principles, ideologies and commitment to the country’s transition towards a progressive, peaceful and development trajectory.

Indeed, the unimaginable behaviors of such politicians who transitioned from one political party to another amid widespread reports of being enticed and or tantalized with promises of lucrative job offers by parties in the Presidential runoff elections grossly undermined the interest and aspirations of many voters, BFF observers also gathered.

The political leaders’ alignments and realignments, coupled with their induced separations and political marriages from one group to another which they had previously condemned as being non visionary, terrible, corrupt, incompetent and undeserving of national leadership, among others left so much to be desired in Liberians.

This too effectively created credibility and integrity deficits for politicians who sought to ascend to public offices through the ballot box. Hence, the dissatisfaction and reluctance of electorates who resultingly classified them (politicians) as ‘birds of the same feathers.’

It was further gathered that the demonstrated lack of trustworthiness and honesty by political actors were among the causative factors for the low turnout in the November 2023 Presidential runoff polls.

The illegal and mass trucking of voters by most defeated Representative and Senatorial candidates in the first round of the Presidential and Legislative elections held on 10, October, 2023, who miserably failed to transport potential voters to polling centers across the country where they voted in the first round of the polls also contributed immensely to the low turnout that characterized the Presidential runoff.

According to BFF observers, ‘‘the low turnout is also a byproduct of vigilantism and militancy employed by some political parties and their leaders to intimidate their political opponents in the 2023 elections.                                                                                                                                        The multiple acts of electoral violence which occurred in Lofa, Nimba, Montserrado and Maryland Counties, among others which resulted into property damage, injuries, and destruction of some precious human lives without proper investigation, accountability and due process of law are some of the major causative factors, according to our observers, that account for the low turnout in the November 2023 Presidential runoff election.

Such assertion, reinforced by recent allegation of gun attack on the convoy of UP Vice Presidential candidate and his entourage in Nimba County by an individual who is said to have connection with certain governing elites which led to the death of one person and the injuring of several others is also rated as a major factor that caused more voters in many parts of the country to stay away from Tuesday polls for security safety reasons.

 

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