or many of us who are fortunate enough to live under a democracy, the voting process has become part of a several-year cycle that we all experience. The democratic process has been perfected throughout history to deliver what many would class as the fairest decision a nation’s population can achieve with every person’s decision being counted. As always, nothing is perfect, and election fraud and the falsification of votes can be seen in countries where democracy is little more than a charade to gain its government legitimacy in the eyes of its people. This is usually done subtly so as to not raise suspicion, but sometimes this fraud is done on such a scale that even those who are blinded by their country’s prestige might start to ask some questions. Such was the situation in 1927 in Liberia.
The one who stared America
Liberia started out as an American colony settled by the American Colonization Society (ACS) on January 7, 1822. The settlement was initially created for freed American slaves as it was thought they had a better chance at freedom in Africa rather than in America. The colony declared its independence in 1847, although it wasn’t officially recognized as independent by the United States until the Confederacy split off from the US.
After the American Civil War, Liberia would continue to hold close ties to the US, as seen in World War One, where it declared war against Germany only 5 months after the US. The country would also go on to be one of the founding members of the League of Nations, the predecessor of the United Nations, created after World War One, with the goal of stopping another war from happening in Europe.
Nine years after the Great War, Liberia was due for an election. The incumbent, True Whig Party, was represented by Charles D. B. King, who had already served two terms as the head of the country by 1927. King faced off against Thomas J. Faulkner, who represented the People’s Party in the election.
In 1927 there were only 15,000 registered voters in Liberia, making each vote count that much more. We can conclude from the final voting figures that King realized that he lacked the support to win the election legally. By looking at the final ballot, we can see that 9,000 people voted for his opposition, Thomas Faulkner. It is improbable that those 9,000 votes were faked due to the landslide victory King manufactured for himself; there was no real need to meddle with the competition.
After the count, King and his True Whig Party received 243,000 votes, a value more than 15 times greater than the number of registered voters in the whole of Liberia. Due to the magnitude of the rigging in this election, the event received a Guinness Book of World Records award for being the most fraudulent election ever reported in history.
A gift from our ancestors
Events such as this election show us that people will do anything for power, no matter how stupid the idea is. We still live in a world where elections are influenced in ways that many might describe as undemocratic. It is up to the voter to set right the faults of democracy as the voter ultimately holds all of the power in such a system.
Unlike our ancestors who lived under a Feudal system, we have the ability to influence how our country is run. Taking part in the democratic process should be seen as a privilege and a duty for the citizens of each country rather than a burden. The action of one person, one day every four, five, or six years can change the course of history.