After Outrage at Lost Voter Card Fees, Gov’t Agrees to Cover Costs

MONROVIA, Montserrado – The National Elections Commission has extended the period for the replacement of lost and damaged voters’ registration cards by two days after the government offered to take responsibility for a controversial US$5 fee.

The official deadline for the exercise was on Tuesday, June 25, but the NEC later announced in a release that the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning has promised to foot the bill of US$5 each for all missing and damaged voting cards.

Unlike previous elections, where lost and damaged voter registration cards were issued at no cost to the voters, the commission required citizens to pay US$5 each to have their cards replaced. It said the requirement was in line with elections laws.

“In the event of loss or destruction of the registration card, and after proof has been established, the registrar shall issue a new card for a minimum fee of $5 to be paid in the internal revenue,” the law states.

This is the first time that citizens are being required to pay for lost or damaged voter registration cards in recent years.

The replacement exercise also required a number of processes, such as obtaining an invoice from either of the two election magisterial offices of Montserrado and making payment to the Liberia Revenue Authority before proceeding back to the NEC magisterial office to replace lost or damaged cards.

The situation has enraged citizens who think it is unreasonable to charge US$5 for a voters’ card amid voter apathy and the current economic hardship.

Meanwhile, NEC has called on individuals with lost or damaged voter registration cards to turn out at either of the NEC offices in Brewersville, Bensonsville, or at the commission’s headquarters in Sinkor on Wednesday and Thursday.

“NEC encourages voters to turn out as there will be no further extension after June 27, 2019,” the release disclosed.

Featured photo courtesy of National Elections Commission

Gbatemah Senah

Gbatemah is a graduate of the University of Liberia and a recipient of the Jonathan P. Hicks Scholarship for Mass Communications. In 2017, Senah won three Press Union of Liberia awards: Women's Rights Reporter of the Year, Legislative Reporter of the Year, and Land Rights Reporter of the Year. In 2018, he was also recognized as the Land Rights Reporter of the Year.

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