LIBERIA: Civics and Service International vows to Do All to Help Reduce Invalid Votes in Future National Elections
While Liberians are celebrating their democratic gains made in the October 10, 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections and the November 14, 2023 Presidential Runoff Election, there is one very ugly dent on the democratic processes that Liberians have witnessed over the last few weeks. That dent is the very huge number of invalid votes that were accrued during the October 10 and November 14 elections — 112,875, and 25,788 voters respectively.
On October 10, 2023, 19 men and a woman went to the polls and asked Liberians to vote for either of them to be their next President. At the end of the day, none of them got the constitutionally required 50% plus one vote mark to be crowned the next President of Liberia. So, the race came down to the first and second place holders with the highest numbers of votes. President George Weah and former Vice President Joseph Nyuma Boakai got the first and second places respectively so they had to meet in the November 14, 2023 Presidential Runoff Election.
As the National Elections Commission (NEC) Chairperson, Madam Davidetta Browne Lansanah, read the results, it became very noticeable that the number of invalid votes was alarming and something needs to be done so that national future elections won’t have such huge number.
In this light, Civics and Service International Country Director, Mr. Otis S. Bundor, has disclosed that his organization is going to strengthen the importance and how to mark ballot papers properly in their civic education program, especially their Civic Clubs in various high schools.
Bundor: “Civic education needs to be prioritized by the Government of Liberia and all developmental partners not only during elections but before, because it is crucial to a functional democracy. For close to a decade, CSI has been working to make sure all citizens are not just aware of how to vote, but to know their rights and responsibilities. Invalid vote does not only undermine democracy but it also denies many citizens from electing leaders of their choice.” According to Mr. Bundor, with support from the OSIWA, CSI wrote a comprehensive civic textbook for junior and senior students called the “LAW+YOU: Rights and Responsibilities of Citizen”. Since the Government of Liberia authorized these textbooks to be taught in schools.
“CSI calls on all well-meaning partners to collaborate and make sure these textbooks are in schools across Liberia because it will contribute immensely to reducing invalid votes and building the fabric of our society.
“I also want to appreciate the people of Liberia for voting peacefully, the President, Mr. George M. Weah, for accepting the 2023 Presidential Runoff result and I congratulate President-elect, Ambassador Joseph N. Boakai for his victory. We now look forward to a peaceful and resilient country and called for a judicial reform. With funding from the Swedish, Irish, Netherland Governments and European Union through UNDP, CSI is currently implementing the ‘Liberate Liberia Lawfully’ project that is an offspring of the ‘Liberia Elections Support Project’ in Nimba and Grand Gedeh counties. The project seeks to provide civic education and promote peaceful coexistence. We are grateful to our partners for the support and look forward future collaboration.”
At the end of the Presidential Runoff Election, the NEC Chairperson announced that 1,634,183 Liberians voted in the Runoff. Of this number, 1,608,395 cast valid votes while 25,788 cast invalid votes, accounting for 1.6%.