Huge Invalid Votes Mark Votes Counting; Poor Civic Education or High Illiteracy Rate?
Klonnious Blamo: Monrovia, October 25
Old lady Nancy Dweh at a polling Center
Old lady Nancy Dweh of Monrovia woke up on the morning of Tuesday October 11 to join hundreds of eligible voters in her District # 8 community to be a part of voting as part of a national duty. Old lady Nancy was lead to the voting center by her 13 years old grand daughter and immediately allowed into the precinct to cast her ballot. The elderly woman walked out of the voting room later with an air of joy and satisfaction that she had taken part in the process. The question that begs answers is, to what extend did old lady Nancy understand the technicalities surrounding the marking of ballot.
The announcing of results from the October 11 general and presidential elections in Liberia is nearing completion, but not without strange developments as an astronomical number of ballots have been rated invalid by the country's elections house.
With all indications now pointing to a runoff, one of the strange developments that highlighted reading of results is the disclosure by the NEC that a total of 81,997 of the ballots counted from 99.9% of all polling places across the country were rated invalid.
On Tuesday, October 18, during the announcing of the fifth and
final batch of preliminary results from last Tuesday's polls, NEC Chairperson, James Fromayan, told reporters that a total of 1, 287, 182 votes had been counted so far and that 6.4 percent of this number was invalid votes.
Reacting to journalist's inquiries as to what led to such huge number of ballots being spoiled, Chairman Fromayan said given the high illiteracy rate of the country the number of invalid votes in this year's elections is not so alarming and that the NEC sees this as a plus born out of good job.
Civic and voter education was a major component of the elections process and was launched five months to election day with untold thousands of dollar going into the process. But results coming out of the votes counting of the October 11 polls speak very little about the overall impact of the civic and voter education done.
“The number of spoiled ballots in these elections is actually alarming especially when compared with the total population of some of Liberia's counties – including Grand Kru (57,106), Rivercess (65,862), and River-Gee (67,318) –, reading from the the 2008 national population censors of Liberia”, says journalist Numennie William who is also the president of the Sports Writers Association of Liberia (SWAL). William further revealed that the entire population of Bomi County at 82, 036, is just barely 39 persons more than the total number of Liberians who could not get their ballots counted even though they braved the heavy rain that occasioned voting day. He called on the NEC to pay serious attention to the issue as the country goes into the runoff on November 8.
Liberia's population stands at 3,441,790 people of which 38.3 percent is said to be literate while the rest is illiterate. However, it is still yet to be established whether the NEC civic and voter education process, with the huge sums put into it, was customized to hammer down the message to the majority illiterate population, especially at rural Liberian community level.