Alyssa Moy, LMI Education Consultant, walks us through the voting process in Liberia. Four young men reflect on their very first voting experience!
For the very first time on Tuesday, 11 October 2011,four LMI beneficiaries had the opportunity to shape the future of Liberia: they exercised their freedom to vote for President, Senator and Representative. On Tuesday, 8 November, they will vote in the Presidential run-off elections.
Emmanuel Pokai (7th grade), Denia Reeves (9th grade), Joseph M. Mulbah (10th grade), and Benjamin Woller (2nd year student at Mother Patern College of Health Sciences) cast their votes at University of Liberia’s Fendell Campus, just a 15 minute walk from Liberia Mission, Inc. Protected by local police and United Nations Mission in Liberia Peacekeepers, the fenced-off polling center had separate lines for “young” voters, “elder” voters, and even pregnant voters. International observers were also present to assure objective voting.
“We stood online. After we entered the area, they asked for your voting ID card. Then, they checked it with the list and checked your photo. We were plenty. We left at 7am and arrived at 8am and left at 3pm,” reported Emmanuel. After presenting their voter ID card to confirm their identity, “We were standing according to the number of our ID cards: if your number was 206, you stood on the line #200-300,” stated Denia. There were voting booths set up with cardboard walls to protect voters’ privacy.
Due to the high illiteracy rate, the long ballot papers were color-coded: red was for President, green was for representative and blue was for Senator. Along with photos of the candidates above their names, the symbol for each political party was also shown. Ballots could be marked with a checkmark, “X” or even thumbprint. Next, they were folded and placed into a ballot box of the same color.
Finally, to confirm they had voted and to avoid duplicate votes, “they poked a hole in it (voters’ ID card) so you could not vote again for “money business'” and the index finger on either their right or left hand was dipped in dark blue ink.
When asked about their feelings about voting for the first time, the gentlemen responded:
DR: As for me, I feel a little bit…I was a bit confused. But later on, I was happy that I’m able to make a decision for my country.
EP: I feel very happy and very excited.
JM: I was happy. When I took the Presidential ballot, I was confused because there were two people I was looking at in the race.
And when asked, “What would you tell younger mission children about voting?” they stated:
DR: If they don’t know about voting, I can show them how to vote or ask me questions about voting, what you’re supposed to do, what you’re not supposed to do.
EP: Voting is very important. For me, I was making my own decision.
JM: I would like to tell them to vote is good. You have to select your leader, a good leader for the country, a president who will make a good future for the young people. I would like to tell my sponsor that I was happy to vote for the first time because when I first came on the mission, I was not above 18. Now I am 18 years and that means I’m grown up now.