Voting Ends in Bong’s Senatorial By-Election

GBARNGA, Bong – Voting has ended in Bong’s senatorial by-election with polling centers across the county appearing to have been marred by poor turnout.

The preliminary counting is taking place at the various polling places across the county.

Eligible voters in Bong went to the polls on Tuesday to elect a replacement for Sen. Jewel Howard-Taylor who was elected in last year’s elections as vice president.

Five candidates are vying for the senatorial post, including Rep. Marvin Cole, the Coalition for Democratic Change candidate who represents Bong’s third district; independent candidate Henrique Tokpa, the former Cuttington University president; Fairnoh Gbilah of the Vision for Liberia Transformation Party; Prince Kollie of the United People’s Party; and Orando Zarwolo of the All Liberian Party.

Bong registered 208,123 voters in 2017, making the county the third populated county, next to Montserrado and Nimba in terms of voters.

The two senior magistrates of the National Elections Commission in Bong described a peaceful election.

Upper Bong’s magistrate, Daniel Newland, said all centers in his area of jurisdiction opened at 8:00 am and closed at 6:00 p.m.

“We have been having a peaceful atmosphere; things have been moving very smoothly,” Newland said.

He said strategies are being put in place to ensure that ballot boxes and electoral workers are transported from the various polling stations to Gbarnga.

Similarly, NEC’s magistrate for Lower Bong, Barsee Kpangbai, confirmed a smooth election: “I have received information from 19 of my electoral supervisors that the process ended peaceful, except for Jungle Jim Camp where there is no network.”

Kpangbai praised the police and other security agencies for helping to monitor the various polling centers throughout the voting process.

“Let me encourage all the candidates to send their agents at the tally center in Lower Bong tomorrow beginning at 10:00 a.m. to observe the tallying process,” Kpangbai said.

Friendship Gbaquoi, a voter at the Gboveh High School Precinct in Gbarnga (Bong’s third electoral district) explained that the voting process was much easier compared to past elections.

Friendship Gbaquoi, a voter at the Gboveh High School Precinct in Gbarnga. Photo: Moses Bailey.

She appealed to supporters of the five contestants to welcome and respect the election results that will be announced by NEC.

“I like to say any other result that comes out, we should accept it and look forward to development, and let’s stop saying this person can’t make it,” Gbaquoi said.

For John Grualee, a farmer and a voter of Bong’s second district, he wants the emerging senator to work to improve agricultural productivity in Bong through the empowerment of farmers.

John Grualee, a voter in Bong’s second district. Photo: Moses Bailey.

“I want the person that will win [to] help us, the farmers, to access loan to improve our farms. We need food in this country,” Grualee said.

He also said he wants the senator to work to unite other members of the county’s caucus for the attainment of development.

Featured photo by Moses Bailey

Moses Bailey

Moses started his journalism career in 2010 as a reporter at Radio Gbarnga. In 2011, the Press Union of Liberia recognized him as the Human Rights Reporter of the Year. In 2017, he was the Development Reporter of the Year. He is also an Internews Health Journalism Fellow. Moses is also the regional coordinator for NAYMOTE-Liberia, an organization working with youth to promote democratic governance.

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