The evening of November 8 in metro Atlanta was frantic, complex and liberating.
So complex, Liberians who couldn’t wait to cast their votes because of the large crowd and the slow and aggravating electoral process left the building in disappointment without casting a single vote.
However, cross section of other Liberians, hundreds and hundreds or thousands who wanted to vote for their candidates by any means ignored the crowd and the aggravation and casts their votes for the new leaders of the Liberian Association of Metropolitan Atlanta (LAMA).
After the marathon (Sunday) night of votes-counting finally ended at 3:15 a.m., Monday, and with the watchful eyes and full participation of the representatives of the various candidates, observers and the press present and engaged in the counting process, Yahsyndi Mollie Martin-Kpeyei and Jerry Yekeh were declared winners by LAMA’s Independent Elections Commission.
Presidential candidates Yahsyndi Mollie Martin-Kpeyei won with 299 votes; Somo Hawa Hubbard- Barsir received 294 votes and Nathaniel Tamba received a total of 72 votes.
Vice Presidential candidates Jerry Yekeh won with 323 votes, while Thomas Awadjie received a total of 309 votes.
After every unused ballots were counted, and after every casts and bad ballots were also counted manually to avoid any controversy and whispers of fraud and cheating, Chairman Salifu Kamara, at around 5:00 a. m. Monday, announced the official results to an obviously tired audience that waited anxiously for the results.
Defeated presidential candidate Somo Hawa Hubbard-Barsir, who ran a flawless and tireless campaign and competed for every vote in metro Atlanta; because of the closeness of the votes protested, did not accept defeat gracefully, and vowed to file an appeal with LAMA’s Independent Elections Commission.
This year’s elections have been electrifying for the Liberian Community in Georgia in terms of interest shown and the unprecedented way the candidates contested their respective positions the way they did.
Before the debate on October 25, which brought out record crowd, to the November 8 elections, which also brought out huge crowds, the candidates fought hard for the support of voters, had fundraisers at various locations, and visited churches to speak to supporters and non-supporters.
Interestingly, some of the local Liberian pastors and deacons were deeply involved (knee-high) in the elections. They took sides and were stunned to see their top candidates lose an election they worked hard to win.
On the day of the actual elections, however, Liberians braved torrential rainfalls and some even volunteer their services by driving voters to the polling center in their personal vehicles and commercial taxicabs, to get voters to the center.
LAMA’s Independent Elections Commission, which is obviously new to this humongous civic duty showed indecisiveness and some level of incompetence and unpreparedness for the record crowd, and perhaps did not anticipate the crowd, did not make way for adequate equipment, and did not put in place crowd control strategies and other technical details that were needed for the evening.
As a result, tempers flared, and Liberians who stood in line for hours and couldn’t vote left the center without having the chance to vote.
While it is so true that there were logistical glitches that slowed down the process and turned away voters, LAMA’s Independent Elections Commission worked very hard and did a great job. Chairman Salifu Kamara and his team deserve kudos for their service to the community.
This is a learning experience. And lessons learned from this experience should be anticipation and being proactive for the next big event in the community.
Now that Liberians anxiously turned out and vote for their candidates, those same Liberians shouldn’t leave their candidates in the middle of the river to work by themselves.
The elected leaders need the help of their supporters and non-supporters to make the community and the new administration a success. This requires attending LAMA’s regular meeting the second Sunday of every month, and paying dues.
Instead of Somo Hawa Hubbard-Barsir threatening to file an appeal because of her presidential loss, she needs to get onboard and work with the new administration to make LAMA better.
We are in this together!
Congratulations to the winning candidates.