Poor Start Mars Voters’ Registration In Liberia

By Josephus Moses Gray
Monrovia, Liberia

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
April 29, 2005


The national voters’ registration process, leading to the national elections in October this year, began on Monday, April 25. In Montserrado and other adjacent areas, the recorded turnout was poor and beneath expectation.

The registration process, which runs from 25th April to 21st May, is expected to register approximately 1.5 million eligible voters.

On day one of the process, The Perspective which toured several of the centers in Monrovia and Tubmanburg, Bomi County, observed a low turn out, despite the sensitization by the National Elections Commission (NEC) and her accredited organizations responsible for the civic education process in the country.

The Marathana Baptist School Center in New Georgia on Caldwell Road, recorded the highest turn out compared to others, such as the Ageline Allison and SIM Community School centers. The Marathana Baptist School Center registered as many as a hundred persons.

The first person to register at the Marathana Baptist School Center, Alex Nimely, promised to encourage others to turn out to register.

In Monrovia, at the City Hall, Chairman Charles G. Bryant who visited the registration site decried the poor turnout of eligible voters. According to him, the turnout was not encouraging and he urged Liberians to show up to register.

When the Chair Person of the Elections Commission, Cllr. Frances Johnson-Morris, spoke to journalists on the issue of low turnout, she indicated that given the bad roads and inaccessibility of some parts of Liberia, the process of registration did not start on the targeted date. She predicted that the process would begin nationwide within a few days.

Haja Washington, the Superintendent of Montserrado County, said the poor turnout is due to the fact that the local citizenry were not adequately sensitized to the process.

Some residents, especially ex-combatants in the county, seemed to be under the illusion that they would not be allowed to vote because they carried cards identifying them as ex-combatants; that notion was later dispelled.

However, at some of the various centers the turnout is beginning to rise, with presidential hopefuls and some of their supporters turning out to register.

In Caldwell, presidential hopeful Samuel R. Divine turned out for the process along with some key officials of his political struggle.

The registration exercise is yet to resume in other parts of the country including Grand Kru, Lofa and River Gee Counties; the delay is blamed on the deplorable road conditions and the failure of the elections commission to open more centers across the country.