Solomon Myers (April 23rd 2005)
"... the power of the average voter to influence the systems that govern their lives lies in the voting process. A voter entrusts the election commission with the duty of protecting their rights and ensuring a transparent, accountable and fair electoral system. The failure of the election commission to fulfill its role, leads to the voter being short changed and alienated....."
As Liberians look towards the 2005 Elections, one is forced to speculate whether democracy can finally take roots in a nation that has been historically and culturally totalitarian.
In order to achieve real democracy and empower the electorate, it is essential to implement tools that will guarantee accountability, fairness and transparency.
Systems have to be put in place to ensure the proper break down of specific voting areas using geography, demography, statistics, voter identification, etc. The population in each constituency has to be proportional to specific census counts, with population fluctuations taken into account. Tools to facilitate the dissemination of information to the electorate must be implemented.
Real democracy comes with its essential ingredients, which helps to lessen the pain of human suffering; hence the application of a “quick and dirty” electoral process, effectively demolishes the cornerstones of democracy and denies the electorate’s access to real democracy.
The trust placed by voters in the electoral system is similar to the trust we place in our banking systems. We save our money in the bank, for rainy days, and entrust our bank to have our savings available to us during emergencies.
Similarly, the power of the average voter to influence the systems that govern their lives lies in the voting process. A voter entrusts the election commission with the duty of protecting their rights and ensuring a transparent, accountable and fair electoral system. The failure of the election commission to fulfill its role, leads to the voter being short changed and alienated.
The protection of voters’ rights and the electoral process, is thus essential in ensuring that the electorate reaps the necessary ingredients emitted from democracy, as opposed to a haphazard system where the undeserving candidate emerges victorious
It is disturbing to note that the current election process in Liberia has taken off without the tools in place to ensure a transparent, accountable and fair electoral system. The current process has become akin to a fifty meter race where the athlete pumped up with the most steroids wins the race.
The lack of access to real democracy will leave a cheated and disenfranchised electorate, and will give rise to the emergence of an undeserving candidate as president. This would eventually lead Liberia into a downward spiral, since such an undeserving president would neither have the will nor mandate to listen to the call of the electorate. This, in turn, will weaken the political legitimacy of the government and Liberians will be drawn into the vicious cycle of conflict.
True democracy, when applied leads to human development and progress. However, when the essential steps in arriving at a true democracy are ignored, we must expect to be confronted, once again, with a quasi democracy - which I will label as the “daylight robbery of the masses”.
It is essential that the Elections Commission take on its role and ensure the transparency, accountability and fairness of the elections process.
Liberia has suffered long enough, and it is important that we do not get stuck in the same vicious cycles of the past. Democracy must be given a real chance, as opposed to it being sabotaged.
From where I sit...