Liberia: NEC Poll Workers “Symbolize the Country’s Future,” Says US Ambassador

USAID Mission Director, NEC Chairperson in a photo with three essayists, US Ambassador, and DI-EDA Chief of Party.

(Monrovia, October 17, 2022) US Ambassador Michael A. McCarthy says the three poll workers symbolize the country’s future and how young people are leading the way to ensure that every vote counts. He made the comment on October 13, 2022, when he awarded the three NEC poll workers who won the nationwide essay contest, “My Duty, My Country, My Future”.

The awardees are Marroline Nohn Dangan from Nimba County, Michael T. Yennego fromMontserrado County, and Othello B. Seekie from Grand Bassa County.  The winners received their awards from US Ambassador Michael A. McCarthy, USAID Mission Director Jim Wright, and NEC Chairwoman Davidetta Browne Lansanah at the Mission Director’s Residence in Monrovia on October 13, 2022, with all NEC Commissioners of the Board present.

Presenting the awards to the essay contest winners, Ambassador McCarthy said; the commitment of poll workers to free and fair elections is inspiring.  The US Ambassador also acknowledged the work of the EDA and NEC in sustaining Liberia’s fragile democracy. “The United States government, through USAID, is proud to support the Elections and Democracy Activity, implemented by Democracy International.  This program represents a great partnership between the National Elections Commission, civil society organizations, and the United States Government.”

Also making remarks at the awards ceremony, NEC Chairwoman Davidetta Browne Lansanah lauded the efforts of the poll workers and recounted the sacrifices they make. “Without you, we cannot conduct elections,” she said. The NEC depends on poll workers to lend more credibility to the voting process, Lansanah added, describing them as “foot soldiers”. She lamented how “meager” poll workers’ compensation is compared to the size and the importance of the tasks they complete.

The winners from the counties – including one woman – joined their Montserrado counterpart in Monrovia last week to participate in the award ceremony on October 13 and appeared on Prime FM Morning Drive on October 14 to share their motivations to serve and encourage more Liberians to serve as poll workers. The radio show will be rebroadcast on community radio stations around the country and the essays will be printed in Women Voices and Daily Observer newspapers all this week.

Democracy International (DI) and the National Elections Commission (NEC) launched the contest in March 2022 to highlight the essential work of poll workers in Liberia. The contest, “Poll Worker: My Duty, My Country, My Future invited poll workers to write about their personal motivations for civic duty, the life-changing moments of working the polls, and how their contributions as poll workers build sustainable peace and democracy. The essay contest was open to all NEC poll workers in all counties who served in the December 8, 2020, Special Senatorial Election and November 16, 2021, By-elections in Bomi, Bong, Grand Gedeh, and Nimba Counties.

The Election and Democracy Activity (EDA), made possible by the generous support of the American people through USAID, is a five-year project that seeks to work with the National Elections Commission, (NEC) Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and the Government of Liberia (GOL) to cultivate accountable elected representatives who govern in the interest of their constituents by building a diverse and an inclusive cadre of representative leaders and active citizens who demand accountability.  

Democracy International implements EDA through three interrelated objectives: (1) increase leadership of marginalized groups in political processes, (2) improve civic knowledge and sense of civic duty and (3) advance self-reliance of the NEC and civil society organizations to independently manage and observe all stages of the electoral cycle.