MONROVIA: While many Liberians are saying it’s too early to predict the overall turnout of voters in the November 14, 2023 2023 Presidential Runoff Elections, worrying signals across the country point to a low turnout that could impact the final results, especially in counties that incumbent President George M. Weah and opposition leader Joseph Nyuma Boakai won during the just-ended October 10, 2023 national elections. As The Analyst reports, pundits from across the aisles are conjecturing as to why the majority of the 2.4 million registered voters shunned the runoff elections that is meant to decide who leads Liberia for the next six years within the executive realm of governance. Taa Zogbay Wongbe, a leading Liberia development analytic expert adds his voice to the debate, outlining key reasons for the trending low turnout and the attendant ramifications.
Crunching the numbers, projecting outcomes
The low turnout in the runoff election has elicited projections from all quarters, the latest coming from Nimba County District #9 Representative-elect Taa Z. Wongbe, who happens to be a development analytic expert with years of experience in empirical data collation based on scientific surveys and polling in and out of Liberia.
According to Wongbe, the result of the ongoing election will be largely based on the voters’ turnout; and depending on the number of people who turn out to vote, the result is going to skew.
Explaining his projection in a podcast released today as voting commenced, Wongbe made a comparable analysis between the 2005, 2011 and 2017 elections, especially the runoff elections of those periods.
“The average voter turnout in this runoff is expected to be 51%. In 2005 we had about 61%. In 2011 there was about 40% turnout because CDC boycotted the second round; and in 2017 we had about 55%; thus, the current average of 51%,” Representative-elect Wongbe said.
Explaining the cause of the low turnout, Wongbe said most people in the interior parts of the country are currently engaged on their farms because of the harvest season; and that the farmers have agriculture koos that keeps them preoccupied, therefore they are not coming out to vote.
In projecting what the low turnout would mean in areas that the two candidates performed exceptionally well, Wongbe said if voters’ turn out is high in the Southeast, CDC could pull off this election; but if the turnout is low, it would spell doom for the CDC that garnered the bulk of its votes from the Southeast. He, however, sounded a caveat, noting that many voters were not trucked in the southeast due to the bad road conditions.
On the other hand, Wongbe conjectured that the Unity Party stands to lose out in places like Nimba and Lofa Counties if those places register low turnout at the end of the day – a scenario that could work in favor of incumbent Weah and his CDC.
Speaking further on the most rampant reason for low voters’ turnout, Wongbe said there are two types of trucking that affect runoff – internal trucking and external trucking.
“Internal trucking is where the citizens in towns are trucked to the polling centers. External trucking is bringing people from other counties to vote in another county. With that, it is risky. If those people are not brought back, the people who won those counties are in trouble,” he said.
The assertions from Wongbe seem to jive with opinions from our correspondents that are covering the runoff election in the 15 counties.
According to our correspondent in Grand Kru County and other parts of southeastern Liberia, the turnout is surprisingly.
“We are reliably informed that voters were trucked from far flung places such as Maryland to here in Barclayville to cast their ballots during the first round. Many of those people did not return because their candidates lost in the legislative race,” our correspondent in Grand Kru stated.
Similar stories were reported by our correspondents in other parts of the country, with Montserrado County sharing its toll of the low voters’ turnout.
In Montserrado County for instance, our correspondents cited several factors that affected the low turnout of voters in the nation’s most vote-rich region.
According to one of our correspondents in District 17, a bulk of the voters that registered during the first round were taken to Western Liberia to vote for various candidates in the presidential and legislative elections on October 10.
“As things stand, many of those who were trucked from Monrovia to vote in Bomi, Cape Mount and Gbarpolu might not return because some political party structures did not make the appropriate reservations to transport the voters back to where they cast their ballots on October 10. Some people have vowed to vote for any other party that takes them back to vote,” our District 17 correspondent averred.