Absentee Voting for Liberia

Despite the end of voter registration last month, modification can be made to accommodate absentee ballot. We have entered into uncharted territory; thus, we should be optimistic about implementing absentee ballot during this forthcoming general election because monumental changes have already been made to the Liberian constitution, specifically foregoing census during the upcoming elections, accommodating IDPs voter registration, etc.

Our organization, LiberianAbsenteeBallot, will continue to debunk the myth surrounding absentee ballot for all Liberians. There's no justification for denying a legitimate group of people their inalienable rights to vote, especially when there is an absentee ballot provision in the Liberian constitution. Where are the socioeconomic and political reforms if we fail to implement absentee ballot? Where is the reform -absentee ballot- to make political leaders accountable to voters back home and abroad? Where is the reform when we fail to implement absentee ballot, a universal voting exercise, that will bring about profound political transformation and sound leadership to Liberia? There's a popular support for this cause.

Do we need absentee ballot?

Certainly. Primarily, it's an inherent right of all Liberians, no matter where they are, to actively participate in their country's political process; there's a provision in the Liberian constitution that calls for absentee ballot implementation; times have changed, especially with the ever-expanding Liberian diaspora, as thousands of Liberians reside outside the country. See our website @ www.LiberianAbsenteeBallot.Org for reasons justifying absentee ballot implementation during the historic October 11, 2005, general election.

Do we have the time?

Absolutely. Unlike the Iraqi OCV elections that were organized in two months, Liberia has sufficient time to set up the mechanism for out-of-country voting, and even possibly do mail-in ballot! I'd would rather opt for the former.

Do we have the logistics?

No. However, the International Organization for Migration, a U.N. affiliate, is specialized in out-of-country voting. They've had OCV success with Iraq, East Timor, Kosovo, Bosnia, etc. IOM would be glad to ensure Liberia has a comprehensive election, one in which no segment of the Liberian population is disenfranchised. Based on information our organization has gathered from IOM, we haven't made the request.

Here are other reasons, if we keep the momentum going, the international community, especially the U.S. will come to our aid:

1. Due to the Global War on Terror, any country can become an important ally with the Bush Administration. The myth of most African countries not having something tangible to offer the West is outmoded. Geopolitics and terrorism have significantly transformed the dynamics. Consider some of the strategic military alliances the U.S. has with African countries, including Djibouti, Egypt, etc.

2. The foreign policy of the United States has also dramatically altered due to the reality of global economy. The goal of U.S. foreign policy is to support countries that are democratizing because those countries are less prone to becoming terrorists' havens. And the thinking goes in the Bush administration that countries that are democratic are more stable, which ultimately diminishes or eradicates terrorist attacks on the United States.

I appeal to all Liberians to support absentee ballot implementation during the October 11, 2005, election, By doing this we can impact the direction of Liberia, and bring about sustainable economic development. Absentee ballot will be a recurring issue every election year. I'm afraid if not implemented during this election, absentee ballot will be put on the back burner. This is our moment of truth. Passivity is not an option; absentee ballot is a constitutional provision.

Our nonprofit organization has received enormous support from all Liberian communities spread out across the United States and the world, including ULAA, OLM, Liberia Ministerial Associations of Minnesota, Liberian-owned businesses, and prominent Liberian citizens, including Dr. Rev. Napoleon Divine, Liberian Human Rights Lawyer, Kofi Woods, Arthur Watson, et al. We are also getting support from Minnesota Senators Mark Dayton (D) and Norm Coleman (R), Governor Tim Pawlenty of the State of Minnesota, and Rep. Ben Golnik.

Please support LiberianAbsenteeBallot petition drive coming to your area soon, and participate in demonstrations scheduled every month by Dr. Rev. Napoleon Divine, pastor of Christ International Baptist Church/The Liberia Campaign for Our of Country Voting for All Liberians. Concerted efforts will enable us all to achieve our goal.

Dionysius Sebwe