Shmelections

Tuesday was declared a holiday in Montserrado county – the most populated county, where Monrovia is situated – in order to allow voters to go to the polls to elect a senator to replace one who died this past summer.

The election was allegedly rife with irregularities, as you can glean from the headlines below (photos shot yesterday, Nov 11th, the day following the election). Allegations of confusion over polling stations, lack of participation and low voter turn out, erroneous voter lists and threats to the Chair of the National Election Commission are among the problems that have made the by-election difficult for Monrovians to take too seriously.

papers1papers2

The prevailing feeling is that the election is more of a referendum on President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s ruling Unity Party, and George Weah’s opposition party, the Congress for Democratic Change. Indeed, this was the first election to be held in Liberia since the 2005 presidential election – some of the people I spoke to said they didn’t vote because they felt their politicians to be rather complacent, and not really working towards the much touted “New Liberia“. Others, on the contrary, are waist deep in political debate – Glenna Gordon writes:

I don’t remember hearing about a senator dying, or plans for elections, but all of the sudden a few weeks ago the streets were plastered with political posters. People were wearing brand new tshirts stamped with candidates faces and logos. My favorite slogan was, “You know it works.” Pick up trucks with megaphones seemed to be talking about politics instead of the usual cell phone promotions or amplified public drunkenness.

So far, the results are not in yet, but Sirleaf’s party seems to be in the lead.

2 thoughts on “Shmelections

  1. From what I saw at several polling centers on Tuesday, most of the irregularities in the voting process seemed attributable to incompetence on the part of the government and the voters rather than any malign intent of the NEC.

    Yes, there was confusion over polling places, but no more than any other kind of organized event in Monrovia. The lateness of the opening of some of the centers is inexcusable (11:30am at one of the centers I visited), but seemed like poor (or typical) event management instead of an effort to discourage voters. The rain and typical voter apathy in a non-presidential election did PLENTY to discourage turnout.

    Of course, results STILL aren’t in.

  2. Thanks for your input, Andrew. I don’t think there was any malicious intention on the part of the NEC either – but I’m not impressed by all the reports I have heard… Like you said, polling centers opening wayyyyy too late, and just general confusion seems to be the main reason why the election is being criticized. That said, it’s interesting to see how the county is handling a non-presidential election, and I hope that this “dry run” will allow them to figure out what issues need to be resolved and what needs to be strengthened/modified in advance of the presidential.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s