Liberia: National Elections Commission Announces Readjusted Dates for December Elections

According to Madam Lansanah, in the adjusted timeline, NEC will carry out civic and voter education on the principles of the voters’ roll update

Monrovia – Madam Davidetta Browne Lansanah, Chairperson of the National Elections Commission (NEC), says the Commission has readjusted the timeline for activities leading to the December 8 Special Senatorial Elections, with an adjustment being shared with political parties and other stakeholders.

According to Madam Lansanah, in the adjusted timeline, NEC will carry out civic and voter education on the principles of the voters’ roll update.

Some core objectives of the VRU are to ensure that Liberians who have reached the age of 18 and qualified under the laws of Liberia are register to vote, she said, adding that Liberians who did not register in 2017 during the nationwide voter registration will also have the chance to be captured on the roll.

“As per our timeline and considering the relevance of the Fourth Estate [the media], we will conduct a workshop for the media on the principles of the VRU.  For the purpose of the 2020 SSE [Special Senatorial Election], the Commission will carry out a Voter Roll Update (VRU). As part of the key dates, the VRU, under the circumstance will last for two weeks, from September 1-15, 2020,” she said at a news conference on Wednesday.

According to the NEC chairperson, the VRU process will be mobile, which means the Commission’s team of registrars will move from one center to another, covering the 2080 registration centers across the country.

Each team, led by a supervisor, will comprise of registrar, clerk, shader, and photographer. These teams will cover a maximum of four centers and will stay three days at each location, she disclosed.

“We have completed the assessment of all 2080 precincts or voting centers throughout the country. This is a cardinal preparatory requirement to the entire election process. We have made the necessary changes and approval of the centers for the conduct of the mobile registration.

“Let me emphasize that some of the structures used as centers during the 2017 registration have been changed and renamed. However, as per our normal procedure, the new centers are within the same localities. The Commission will duly inform citizens of the 2080 registration centers to be used during this 2020 VRU.”

Later, Madam Brown Lansanah told journalists that the NEC Training Section has completed the development of the VRU Training Procedures Manual.

Importantly, the current manual captures all necessary coronavirus Health Protocols, as mandated by the National Public Health Institute of Liberia and ECOWAS. This has paved the way for the training of thousands of temporary election staffs across the country, she added.

“Prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus, we, along with UNDP, oversaw a dialogue whereby the political parties deliberated and finalized the Political Parties Code of Conduct,” she said disclosing that NEC has completed inspection of all political parties headquarters.

She also informed Journalists that the Commission is on course with local and international procurement of election materials, disclosing that printing and publishing international vendor, AlGhurair, has shipped from Dubai the Optimal Mark Recognition Forms (OMR forms), which are used for capturing registrants’ data during the VRU.

A local vendor, Unique Enterprise, has also procured data processing equipment including laptops for the Data Center while three “brand new servers” have also been procured and installed at the commission.

“Let me also report that the UNDP, with support from the Swedish Embassy, a few weeks ago donated Information Communication and Technology (ICT) materials including 72 batteries for the server battery bank, security locks, and National Access Storage (NAS). The items also included air conditioners (24,000 and 12, 000 BTU). All of which prepare our Data Center ahead of the Voter Roll Update and the polls,” she said.

In the NEC readjusted date, the nomination period for aspirants intending to contest the SSE will run from September 1 thru 21, 2020.  Also, the referendum will start on October 10 and end on December 6, 2020.

Meanwhile, Madam Lansanah lauded the cooperation of major partners of the impending elections.

“We want to recognize the efforts of our major stakeholders the 28 registered political parties for their continued engagement within and outside of the Inter-Party Consultative Committee (IPCC). We are assured that going forward we will sustain these ties for the common good of our Country, she said.

“We also extend a debt of gratitude to our international partners including UNDP, Iris Aid/Iris Embassy, Sweden, and Canada, EU, US Embassy and others, towards the conduct of these elections. We also recognize the effort of the diplomatic community and their continued support in ensuring that these elections are held as scheduled.   We will continue to rely on your moral and material support.

“We also recognize the intervention and collaboration of both the Legislative and Executive branches of the Government for providing a new date, December 8, 2020 to conduct the elections. To date, the Commission has received a combined total of US$2,000,786.00, comprising of US$1,200,471.60 and L$158,887,373.59.”

Consistent with counts 4 and 5 of the Joint Resolution, the Commissioner disclosed that it has launched the review and cleanup process of the 2017 FRR (final registration roll), assuring that NEC staff continue to work assiduously to rollout planned activities for the update.

“The Commission remains committed to conducting free, transparent, fair and credible VRU, SSE and Referendum.”