The Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) says although the opening process of the midterm senatorial and referendum elections has been generally peaceful, orderly, and proceeding smoothly across the country, its observers have however reported isolated issues of concern at certain polling places.
Collating reports from 927 observers across the country, the ECC noted in a press statement issued Tuesday December 8, that at polling precinct 30280 polling place #3 at the Messiah School System in Montserrado district #3, a voter who was initially issued two ballots (senatorial and referendum) later attempted to drop an extra senatorial ballot plus the referendum in the ballot box. When asked where he got the extra senatorial ballot, he accused the ballot paper issuer of giving it to him. However, he was later turned over to the police for further investigation.
“At precinct 30057 at polling place #1 in Montserrado district #13, a voter attempted to snap his marked ballot and NEC officials intervened and discarded his ballot paper which caused tension at the polling place for at least 5 minutes. The tension was later quelled down and voting resumed,” ECC observed.
Also at Precinct 30484, place # 06 in Montserrado district #5, Observer confirmed that ballot paper issuer issued 8 referendum ballots to voters that had 4 of the 8 prepositions missing before realizing the error. When the observer was contacted about the name of the polling place, he confirmed that the venue was an unfinished building. The ECC says it continues to monitor the process and will have more comprehensive information in future updates.
According to the ECC, voters across polling centers complained of not having adequate information on how to mark the referendum ballots and what the symbols means. The ECC also observed the non-adherence of social distancing at polling places/precincts and therefore calls on the NEC and Security officials to enforce the social distancing measures.
While commending the National Elections Commission for the timely opening of voting precinct, availability of voting materials as well as safety materials (hand washing stations) at voting places, the ECC however calls on the NEC and Joint Security, particularly the Liberia National Police, to investigate where voters got these extra ballots from and take appropriate mitigation measures.
The Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) is a civil society platform, comprising 30 organizations that observes all aspects of electoral processes in Liberia, including this 2020 Special Senatorial Elections and Referendum. The ECC has a six member steering committee with representatives from Center for Democratic Governance (CDG); Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP); Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD); National Youth Movement for Transparent Elections – Partners for Democratic Development (NAYMOTE-PADD); West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP) and the Women’s NGO Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL). CDG serves as the chair of ECC.
The ECC’s observation effort takes advantage of advanced information and communication technologies (ICTs) to receive near real-time reports from its observers. The ECC has established a National Information Centre (NIC) in Monrovia to which ECC observers submit reports using coded text messages from their mobile phones. Reports are directly transmitted into a sophisticated database and processed. ECC remains the largest civil society platform that observes elections in Liberia. It works in partnership with the National Democratic Institute with support from the USAID.