By Grace Q. Bryant
The Board of Commissioners of the National Elections Commission (NEC) has echoed its earlier decision in favor of candidates Edwin Melvin Snowe of Bomi County and Zoe E. Pennue of Grand Gedeh County.
However, report reaching this paper said lawyers representing the senators-elect have given notice to the NEC that they will seek legal redress at the Supreme Court.
“This Board says that it is clear that the errors the appellant complained of were harmless administrative errors; errors that did not impact the votes of any candidate; errors that were corrected at the tally centers and were mooted before the hearing officer started hearing testimonies from the witnesses. Errors that the Honorable Supreme Court has held are not irregularities and cannot be used to invalidate the result of an election,” the Board ruled in the case of Mr. Snowe.
Commissioner Cllr. Ernestine Morgan Awar
The NEC further explained that the maximum number of voters assigned to any polling place is 500 and that in keeping with practice, a total of eleven stacks containing 50 ballot papers for a total of 550 are sent to each polling place. Before voting begins, a count is done by the ballot paper issued and the number is announced in the presence of the parties’ agents and observers.
“We note that appellant did not allege that the number of ballot papers counted before voting started were more than 550 per polling places nor did it allege or prove that the unused, spoiled and discarded ballot papers were used for improper means,” the Board stressed.
According to the Chairperson Davidetta Brown-Lansanah, at the close of voting in December 8, 2020 special Senatorial Elections in Bomi County, the votes cast at each of the 194 polling places across Bomi were counted in the presence of the parties’ agents of independent candidates and independent observers.
She continued that the vote obtained by each candidate was documented on a five- page carbon copy document known as the Senate Record of the count.
She further stated that apart from the portion containing the names of the candidates and the votes obtained, the top portion has spaces where the presiding officer is asked to document the number of ballots cast- number of ballots papers in the ballot box and the number of unused, spoiled and discarded ballot papers.
She explained that being that it was a carbon copy document; the information written on the first sheet appeared on the bottom sheets. The first sheet (white color) was placed in a tamper-evident envelope and sent for tallying at the NEC magisterial office in Tubmanburg.
She revealed that the results from the 194 polling places were tallied out of the five candidates, independent candidate Edwin Snowe obtained 16, 476 of the valid votes cast; Alex J. Tyler of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) obtained 8, 834 votes; Sando Dazoe Johnson of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) obtained 2, 994 votes and that Mr. Snowe is declared winner.
She maintained that prior to the declaration of the above referenced results, Mr. Victor B. Johnson using the letterhead and logo of the Coalition for Democratic Change on December 9, 2020, filed a complaint with the acting Elections Magistrate in Bomi County, alleging electoral irregularities.
Chairperson Browne explained that the complainant prayed for a full and thorough re- count of the votes. On December 11, 2020 complainant withdrew the original complaint and filed an amended complaint.
On January 18, the Board heard oral argument in the captioned appeal and reserved ruling. Two days later, the informant filed a bill of information with the Board, alleging that certain documents it introduced before the hearing Officer were not in the case file.
In keeping with the principal of due process, an assignment was issued and the parties appeared before the Board on January 22, for oral argument on the Bill of Information. At the close of the argument, ruling was resolved to be rendered along with the ruling in the appeal.