Grand Bassa County - In an attempt to have free, fair and transparent elections in 2017, the National Elections Commission (NEC) has opted to use biometric voter registration, according to NEC Executive Director Lamin Lighe.
lighe “NEC has adopted biometric voter registration for 207, if you registered and want to do another one, we will do a check and find out,” Lighe explained. “This election is very crucial. We want to do our best. The first way of voting was undermined by double registration which was difficult to determine.” He said though the inking of fingers proof effective to curb fraud, there are still difficulties in finding those who registered twice. “Though it is difficult for someone to vote twice because of ink which could prove difficult to be removed during eight hours, but with someone having two cards, we still feel that it undermines the election.” The NEC executive director averred that with a bio-metric voter registration, voters will not verify their registration manually. “With a bio-metric registration, we want to have an electronic verifier. They will swap your voter card in the verifier and your picture will appear, all these innovation is to have a greater acceptance of the result,” Lighe said. He asserted that the national elections commission is putting its house in order ahead of elections, adding that budget and procurement plans have been submitted. “The only logistic planning that is bigger than election is when you are going to war,” added. NEC Executive Director said that the laws on the book about campaigning are not clear. “We have two periods—the non- campaign and campaign periods. During the non-campaign period, political parties are allowed to have fundraising rally, parties can hold local and national convention, politician can receive and respond to petition, it is not a violation,” l Lighe said. “You cannot canvass for vote during the non-campaign period, we all know one way or the other people are violating but we are finding it difficult to prosecute.” He said NEC is cognizant of the happenings, adding that they are trying to improve the system. “We are cognizant of the reality; we are trying to improve it. It is no secret people are already campaigning.” “we want to have a level playing field. We want to open the process up. Three months to campaign is too short.” NEC Executive Director spoke at a one-day symposium on inspiring leadership and youth participation in elections at the Grand Bassa Community College in Buchanan City organized by the national youth movement for transparent elections (NAYMOTE). The one day event brought together over 100 youth leaders from Montserrado and Grand Bassa Counties to discuss the 2017 elections, the role of young people in the electoral process, how to prevent electoral violence, promote national stability and shared vision for the new generation of young political leaders among others, etc. The program saw representatives from political parties youth wings, civil society institutions, university students’ governments, the Liberia national Police, the national elections commissions, the embassy of Sweden and the embassy of the United States of America in Liberia, etc. The symposium is part of the young political leadership school, a program designed to strengthen Liberia`s democracy through capacity building of young political leaders that can make political parties more effective players in the political system of Liberia. NAYMOTE Executive Director, Eddie Jarwolo stressed the need of having positive thinking young citizens, adding that his institution provides the platform to grow responsible young people. “There is a dire need to have positive thinking young citizens who are willing to uphold the mantle of leadership and run the affairs of this nation in a responsible and accountable manner for the good of all its inhabitants. This is what my institution wants to help young people address.”