Wednesday, March 7 | Election Day Sierra Leone 2018 in Freetown

It's Sierra Leone's Election 2018 day and voters have been lining up since 4 a.m local time, waiting for polling stations to open between 7 and 7:30 a.m.

People expect long lags in the overall process.

 "Confirmed results aren't expected for another week, although there are signs some results will be announced on Thursday," one observer said.

Sierra Eye, the media organization that hosted televised debates in partnership with democratic governance institutions, has been out and about in Freetown, the nation's capital city. Below are polling station reports and photos. Can you spot the politicians and celebrities? 

 The first five hours of the voting process in the Western Rural/Urban Area have been generally well organized and without major incident. Polling agents and voters alike have expressed general satisfaction with a process that, while not particularly fast, has been steady with a few exceptions.

The slowness of progress has caused voters in some constituencies to be restless and impatient, even as the number of voters showing up at polling centers increases. It has been noted that polling agents from some of the political parties and international observers have been absent at some of the polling centers while there is a much higher concentration of them in other polling centers.

A problem common to the process is the difficulty in having voters stand in line in alphabetical order. It has been common for voters to stand in the wrong line for extended periods, only to be told, when they get to the front of the line to go and join another line. This explains partially why the process has been slow. It has been noted that some voters with their ID cards have not been able to find their names in the NEC registers and have therefore been asked to stand to one side for an undetermined period.

Constituency 125 Ward 430 has been particularly lively with political party representatives as well as international observers. The police presence here does not seem adequate enough to maintain control of the numbers of voters here and reinforcements have been called for. Meanwhile, the attempt at a political party representative to access a polling center via the exit instead of the entrance drew a vehement objection.

Concerns have been raised in constituency 123, specifically at the Annie Walsh Memorial School polling center, that the Coalition for Change is not represented on the parliamentary ballot papers, despite authentication of the candidate’s nomination process. Meanwhile, the voting process continues.

Constituency 116 is one of the largest voting areas in the Western Urban/Rural Area with 3,000+ voters showing up to exercise their franchise. Despite the low presence of security, the mostly youthful population is at present conducting itself in an orderly manner. They have, however, expressed frustration at the slow pace of the process.

Constituency 107 Ward 382 is among the larger polling centers, with an expected capacity of 3,600 voters. Despite the large number the process has been relatively well organized. However, some political party polling agents have been critical of the quality of voter sensitization. There have been issues of voters turning up without Voter ID cards. People falling into this category were allowed to vote based on their information on NEC records from the 2012 elections.

Voters in the polling center at the Sierra Leone Grammer School have complained that the polling stations are in a dark room, making it difficult to mark their candidates on the ballot papers
see my answers below

There is a rising sense of disgruntlement at Constituency 128, Ward 436, where a significant number of voters are facing problems with their voter identification. Consisting of 11 polling stations meant to provide service to 3,300 voters, there is only one polling station manager on the ground, which means that the process of voter ID verification is very slow. As a result, a significant number of people have left the polling center without voting. Further investigation revealed that these voters are varied in their political support, which suggests that the situation is a more of an organizational lapse than a deliberate act. Be that as it may, a plea is being made to NEC to send more personnel to this location, as important votes are

A voter at Wesleyan Pentecostal, Kissy polling center claims that her ballot papers were not stamped and she did not discover this until after she had cast her vote when she noticed that other voters were having their ballot papers stamped. According to the polling station manager, nothing can be done at this point and the votes will be classified as void. It raises the question, how often this could have happened to other voters without them realizing that their ballot papers had not been stamped.


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