It was not an easy contest but Mr. Geevon-Smith proved beyond all reasonable doubts by remaining on top of the number from the original count on December 8, to the recount of seven polling centers as well as the most-tense recount of the remaining 104 centers across the country. The long-awaited political battle for River Cess County concluded with Mr. Wellington Geevon-Smith reaffirmed as winner of Special Senatorial for River Cess having accumulated 3,332 votes or 23.35% of the total valid votes cast. His closest contender, Mr. Tequah also obtained 3,289 votes or 23.05%.
With his position as winner of the River Cess County race remained constant even up to, and following the last recount of 104 centers, his main rival, Steve Tequah was convinced and has congratulated him on his victory as the next Senator of the County. Following the recount process, representative of Tequah refused to sign the final tally result; however, signed onto all the results of the 104 tally sheets. The victory of the Senator-elect was more legitimized with concession and congratulatory message from his main rival, who he just beat by 43 votes margin. Mr. Tequah, in conversation with DCN Radio in River Cess County and in a subsequent facebook post, congratulated Mr. Geevon-Smith for his victory and vowed to support him to succeed.
“I have just called Hon. Wellington Geevon Smith to congratulate him on his victory. His supporters and his campaign Team also deserve congratulations. I wish all of them well, but particularly the Senator, his wife and their children,” the message read. “This is a time of great challenges for Rivercess, and I pray that the Senator will be successful in guiding our County. I want to thank TEAM TEQUAH for all they did for our campaign. And I trust that TEAM TEQUAH intellect and hard work and commitment to principle will continue to contribute to the good of our County. I thank my TEAM for their tireless work on behalf of the campaign, and thank their wives and children for taking up time as their husbands and dads have spent so many weeks away from home,” among other things wrote.
Senator-elect Geevon Smith has not only been congratulated by Mr. Tequah alone; there have been series of congratulatory messages and messages of commendation coming from Liberians of different sphere of the society, especially prominent citizens of River Cess including the Managing Director of the National Port Authority (NPA), Mr. Bill Twehway. In his message, the NPA boss thanked the Senator-elector and vowed to work with him for the betterment of a “One River Cess County.” “Senator Geevon Smith, congratulations for your victory as Senator of our people, the people of Rivercess County. We are prepared to work with you for the development of our county. Let's put the election hullabaloos behind us and unite our people for the betterment of our county,” the NPA boss noted in a text message.
Mr. Twehway has been accused of being the main sponsored of defeated candidate Tequah; however, he has fell short to comment in responding to the accusation. It could be recalled that the outcome of the River Cess County Special Senatorial Election’s results got more complicated with the country’s electoral body, the National Elections Commission (NEC) ordering recount in the remaining 104 of the 111 polling centers across the county. This is the second time that the Commission has ordered a recount into the process following initial results in which veteran Liberian journalist, Wellington Geevon-Smith, an Independent candidate, was declared winner by a difference of 116 votes having accumulated 3,284 votes or 23.4%. His closest rival, Steve Tequah at the time, got 3,158 votes constituting 22.6% at the time.
Not satisfying with the result, Mr. Tequah filed a complaint against elections workers in River Cess County before the Board of Commissioners, having already being denied by the local magistrate and the hearing office. In his complaint, Mr. Tequah alleged that several valid votes belonging to him were counted invalid in seven polling centers. And following the inquiry into the matter by the NEC’s Board, it then recommended that a recount be done in seven of the 111 polling centers. Based on the gravity of the matter and admittance by an official of the Commission into the matter, the Chairperson of the NEC, Madam Davidetta Browne Lansanah then ordered a recount based on the ruling of the NEC’s BOC that a re-count will be conducted in seven out of the 111 polling places in River Cess County.
However, following the recount of results in the seven of the polling centers, it was only the margin that changed to the top but the result remains stable as Wellington Geevon-Smith still won the race. Mr. Geevon-Smith, also a former Assistant Minister for Technical Services at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) during the regime of former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, this time got a total vote cast of 3,302 or 23.3% of the total valid votes cast, while Mr. Tequah (IND) obtained 3,248 or 23.0%, which is a margin of just 54.
Again, based on the outcome of the recount in those places, that somewhat reduced the margin, Mr. Tequah filed a Bill of Information with the Board of Commissioners of the Commission seeking a rerun election in Neezoin, Precinct 36009 polling place 1 and at the same time recount ballots cast in 104 polling places in the county. Mr. Tequah’s request to the NEC Board stems from the realization that he obtained 80 votes (35.7%) of 228 votes from seven polling places deemed to be invalid after a recount in those areas. But the country’s electoral body ruled that a recount be conducted in the 104 polling centers, but denied rerun in Neezoin. Mr. Geevon-Smith took the matter to the Supreme Court of Liberia, which is regarded as the final arbiter of justice in the country, but the nation’s highest upheld the decision of the Commission, and so the recount was held with the result still favoring the veteran Liberian journalist (Geevon-Smith).