By Bill W. Cooper
With another round of invalid votes coming out of the presidential runoff elections, the Chairperson of the National Elections Commission’s (NEC) sharp response was “Where our money stops, is where we will stop.”
Responding to a question on Civic Voters Education and the pouring in of invalid votes as the Commission begin releasing runoff election results, Davidetta Browne-Lansanah, disclosed that the Commission has taken resolute stance in addressing the situation
During the pronouncement of preliminary results yesterday, it was registered that Liberia has 5,420 invalid votes from 386,076 votes, amounting to 15.6 percent of votes tallied from 1,315 out of 5,890 Polling Places from 14 counties.
It can be recalled that during the first round, Liberia registered an unprecedented high number of invalid votes of 114, 639, thus raising concerns from both local and international observers, including prominent Liberians and political parties.
The situation also raised eyebrows about the quality of voters’ education, ballot paper design, and, on the overall, the capacity and ability of the Commission to effectively carry out its constitutional responsibility.
But in reaction to inquiry about the invalid votes registered so far, the NEC Boss, stated that the Commission carried out massive Civic Voters Education (CVE) across all 73 Districts.
She disclosed, that citizens were educated about all of the rights, issues, and awareness about the country’s electoral process for a period of over three months prior to the runoff election.
Madam Browne-Lansanah maintained, “We did our best but CVE is not something that you can just get up and do, because whenever we do it, we pay for it and it is expensive and requires a lot of money.”
“So, the money that we had was the money we used to pay for the CVE we did. And if it was done for just three months or even less than that, it was where we could stop, based on limited funds,” she explained.
e NEC Boss furthered, “So, perhaps the next time, when we ask for millions of dollars, you in the media, political parties’ leaders, and all Liberians, will advocate for the Commission to have enough funding to be able to carry out massive CVE so, da the one we able.”
Meanwhile, Madam Browne-Lansanah further stressed the need to integrate electoral matters into all schools (both public and private) across the country, which, she said, will also help in the education about the country’s voting procedures.