MONROVIA, Montserrado – Shortly after the close of voting in Tuesday’s presidential runoff election, the National Elections Commission has described the poll as “smooth and marked by improvements.”
NEC Chairman Jerome Korkoya said in a post-election statement that the electoral process and voting were smooth and improved, as systems introduced by the commission were working.
Despite earlier reports of few cases of election fraud in Montserrado, Korkoya said there were no major incidents to report of a technical nature and voting was peacefully conducted.
“The Liberian National Police were deployed across the country and the National Elections Commission would like to thank the servicemen and women for their support in ensuring a secure and peaceful election day,” he said.
While nationwide polling had been generally smooth, the NEC chairman disclosed that there were a small number of incidents that were dealt with on the spot immediately after they were reported.
In Zubah Town at the Mother Sarah School System in Paynesville, for example, Korkoya said a voter is being investigated by police for allegedly carrying two ballot papers.
In another instance, he said a polling official was removed from post and immediately replaced for also allegedly undermining his impartiality at a polling station by posting his political choice on social media.
He also confirmed reports of an incident of tension at the Broluco School System in Paynesville’s Kpelle Town, in the ELWA community.
There had earlier been growing tension between NEC officials and supporters of CDC at the center ahead of the start of counting, on claims that CDC poll watchers were being denied access to the counting room. Armed police officers were deployed to the polling center before the situation was resolved.
“The National Elections Commission wishes to stress these types of incidents were extremely rare and were dealt with according to the law,” he said.
Korkoya also said, except at a small number of polling places, all voting began at 08:00 a.m. He referred to a voting precinct in Lofa where the polling opened at 09:20 a.m. because of late delivery and another in Montserrado where poll opening was 15-minutes late because polling staff were waiting for party agents before they could start the process of voting.
“Where there has been any delay in opening of polling places, the National Elections Commission has instructed staff to account for the delay by closing polling later,” he said.
The Bush Chicken can confirm that polls were opened on time at places that had reporters in Montserrado, Margibi, Bong, Grand Bassa, River Cess, Nimba, and Maryland. In some locations, such as Montserrado’s 13th district, voting began as early as 7:30 am, 30-minutes ahead of the NEC’s official time for voting to commence.
While the election was off to a mostly problem-free, turnout was significantly lower than was seen during the October 10 elections.
Korkoya called on both political parties that participated in the elections to refrain from declaring a result until the official results are released.
“Counting of the ballot papers has now commenced and is currently being carried out nationwide. This counting will be undertaken under the full view of political party agents and international and national election observers,” he also noted.
The NEC chairman assured that tallying of official results would commence at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday and the commission would also release provisional results as they arrive.
The commission meanwhile praised polling staff, including the five poll workers from Nimba and Grand Bassa it said were involved in road traffic accidents while preparing for the election day activities.
Local and international organizations observed the elections, including the European Union Election Observation Mission, African Union, ECOWAS and the Election Coordinating Committee.
Featured photo by Zeze Evans Ballah