From the Editor’s Keyboard

Those Invalid Votes

25 August 2007 at 18:31 | 525 views


The August 11 parliamentary and presidential elections have come and gone without any major incident. It has also been assessed as free and fair by most Sierra Leoneans including the staff of this newspaper.The international community has, to a large extent, nothing but praise for the whole process.The representative of the European Community however had some reservations about the ruling party’s control of state media and the open bribery of voters at the residence of the SLPP presidential candidate. Despite that stain, one can say Sierra Leone should be proud of this electoral performance.

We sincerely hope the presidential run-off scheduled for September 8 would, in the same manner, be free and fair.

We are however cautious with our optimism when we reflect that over 100,000 of the votes cast by our compatriots under adverse weather conditions had been declared invalid by the National Electoral Commission(NEC).Those invalid votes mean less parliamentary seats for the leading political parties and some of them(votes) would perhaps have secured a seat for at least one of the so-called minor parties.

According to NEC, those votes were cast aside because the voters did not vote correctly. This means not enough voter education had been done by either NEC or the political parties(some party officials say that’s not their job).

We hope more voter education is done for the run-off this time to avoid the large number of invalid votes of August 11, the highest in the sub-region in recent times.

We also call on NEC to explain to the public WHY those votes were declared invalid(what was done wrong. Radio, television and newspaper outlets should be used to the maximum to help the voters understand as there are rumours that NEC was doing things in favour of a certain political party.

The commission should publish or announce the number of invalid votes of each of the political parties, invite political party representatives to go and inspect them and ensure that political party officials are present at the counting and tallying of votes at all times to dispel rumours of rigging and other malpractices inside NEC offices.

NEC has a reputation and image to protect and we believe doing the above will not be too much trouble. It’s in fact the best thing to do in the circumstances.