Min. McGill Explains Referendum Symbols
The Minister of State for Presidential Affairs, Nathaniel F. McGill, has taken lead initiative to explain the meaning of the symbols of the Propositions of the up-coming National Referendum.
Minister McGill noted that the first Proposition, which has to do with dual citizenship, has two symbols: doubled passport (green and maroon) and a single passport (green). He explained that, if one marks the box near the doubled passport it means the person is agreeing that the current law on the book be changed and dual citizenship be accepted; and if a person marks the box near the single passport it means that the person does not agree to the dual citizenship bill but wants the law to remain the same.
He explained further that all the propositions that pertain to the reduction in tenure, including the reduction in tenures for the President and Vice President, senators, President Pro Tempore, Representatives, Speaker and Deputy Speaker, the Official Gazette provided two symbols: a small chair and a big chair. According to him, if one marks the box near the small chair for any of the propositions calling for the reduction in tenure for a particular position, it means that the person is in agreement that the tenure of that particular position be reduced; and if the person marks the box near the big chair it means the person does not favor the law to reduce the tenure of that position but wants the current law to remain the same.
He noted that the symbol of big and small chairs is being used for five propositions because they all have similar nomenclature—reducing or maintaining the tenure of a position: President and Vice President, Senators, President Pro Tempore, Representatives and Speaker and Deputy Speaker. He said the logic behind the symbol is that the big chair means a long tenure, while the small chair means a short/small tenure, which can be explained to anyone, literate or illiterate, and be understood in seconds.
He said another symbol being used for the National Referendum is the sun, depicting dry season, and an umbrella under the rain, depicting rainy season. He said this symbol is being used for the proposition that calls for the National Elections Commission (NEC) to change the date of holding the election from the rainy season (October) to the dry season (November). He said if one votes for the symbol of the dry season, it means the person agrees that the NEC should change the date of the general and presidential elections and senatorial by-elections from rainy season (October) to dry season (November); and if the person votes for the symbol with the umbrella under the rain, it means the person is against the NEC changing the date of the elections.
The Minister of State explicitly defined and interpreted the symbols of the National Referendum, expected to be held concomitantly with the senatorial by-election and two representative by-elections on Tuesday, December 8, 2020.
So far the interpretation of the symbols to the people, especially those in leeward counties and remote areas, has been the major contention for those calling on the NEC to postpone the holding of the National Referendum. Most recently, the Standard Bearer of the Unity Party (UP) and former Vice President of the Republic of Liberia, Ambassador Joseph N. Boakai, called on the NEC to desist from holding the National Referendum on the same date of the senatorial by-election.
Ambassador Boakai made the statement on Monday, November 30, 2020 at the occasion marking the celebration of his birth anniversary, graced by a number of supporters, sympathizers, family members and partisans of the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP).
He said he does not support the holding of the referendum, especially so when the NEC and the government have not done sufficient awareness on the ramification of voting for or against the proposals of the referendum. He argued that there are people in some part of the country who do not know that they will even be voting in a referendum on December 8, 2020.
However, Minister McGill has maintained that every Liberian has the responsibility of carrying out the awareness of the proposals, because the laws are not being amended on party basis but on the overall interest of the nation state. He alluded that there are propositions that do not meet the consent of everybody, but a person should be able to give another a reason to either vote for or against a proposal, but not to call on the NEC not to conduct the referendum.
Minister McGill argued that, even those in the opposition do not disagree with the propositions; their only argument has been “there is not enough time to educate the people”; therefore, if everyone puts in time to educate the people it will not require much time to make the people to understand the propositions.