MONROVIA: With the country having transitioned from the Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) to the Biometric Voters Registration (BVR) which was successfully tested and executed during the just-ended Voters Registration process, the Chairperson of the National Elections Commission (NEC), Madam Davidetta Brown-Lassanah says the pending Presidential and Legislative elections will be done manually and not biometrically; but assured that the commission has put a lot in place to ensure that the elections will be free, fair and credible
Chairperson Brown-Lassanah made the clarification on Wednesday, August 2, 2023 when NEC held a consultative meeting with presidential aspirants who are intending to contest this year’s general election.
“The commission wishes to reiterate that while it has transitioned to the Biometric Voters Registration (BVR) from the archaic Optical Mark Recognition (OMR), the 10th October, 2023 elections will be done manually as it has been done in the past.
“While we strive to adapt to the global phenomenon of technological advancement, the process will be done intermittently, especially due to our infrastructure challenges.
“The commission again assures all political leaders as well as Liberians, all stakeholders and all electoral actors, that NEC remains committed to conducting the 10th October, 2023 election in a free and fair and credible manner”, the NEC Boss said.
Speaking on the level of preparation to conduct the elections, she said NEC being cognizant of the huge infrastructural challenges especially road connectivity, has embarked upon procurement of sensitive materials for early deployment, and that the commission has begun conversation with some institutions to assist with the movement of sensitive and non-sensitive election materials.
She further told the political leaders that to date, the government of Liberia has provided a substantial amount of funds needed to execute the elections and that efforts are being made by the government to fulfill its promise to give the last portion of the amount.
While providing an update of all the activities and processes NEC has gone through, starting from the BVR exercise to the release of the final voters list and the issuance of nomination notices to all the aspirants who have expressed their intent to contest the election, Madam Brown told the audience that the final list of all the qualified candidates will be released on Sunday, August 6, 2023, a day after the official commencement of the campaign.
She said the final number of the eligible voters who will take part in the general election after all the deduplication and necessary corrections is 2,471,672. She said a total of 1,030 aspirants submitted nominations to contest various positions with 159 being females which constitutes 15% and 871 males which translates to 85%, as well as 119 independents and 831 aspirants being fielded on the tickets of political parties.
During the interaction portion of the engagement which was also attended by President George Manneh Weah, some of the presidential aspirants raised some issues and sought clarifications from the NEC Boss, among whom were Cllr. Tiawan Saye Gongloe of the Liberian People’s Party (LPP) who wanted to know why the commission will be releasing the final list of the qualified candidates on the 6th of August, 2023 when the official kick off of the campaign is on the 5th of August, 2023.
On her part, the Standard Bearer of the African Liberation League (ALL), Madam Sarah Beyslow-Nyanti, spoke on security and wondered what NEC was doing to guarantee the safety and security of candidates.
Responding to Cllr. Gongloe, Madam Lassanah said there were some challenges faced by NEC, but by the 6th of August, though a day later than the official August 5th date, the commission would have been in the right position to address all issues and then release the list of qualified people. She however said the slight delay or change in the timetable for the release of the list of the qualified candidates will not affect the campaign schedule.
In response to Madam Nyanti, she said NEC is working with the government especially its security agencies to provide security and protection not only to the candidates but also to the entire electoral process.
Meanwhile, NEC yesterday officially kicked off the Civic Voters Education (CVE) exercise throughout the country, which is intended to raise awareness and educate citizens on the timetable, the elections law, citizens responsibilities and the need to go out and vote on election day.
NEC Boss Brown-Lassanah in her remarks said the commission registered 400 institutions including Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Community Based Organizations (CBOs), faith-based institutions, among others, with the mandate to carry on their exercises in the 15 counties, divided into 19 magisterial districts and 73 electoral districts.
She said it is hoped that the institutions selected in the process will endeavor to discharge their functions and duties to assist in mobilizing the citizens and raising the level of awareness among the people so that the elections will yield the desired result.
Speaking on behalf of the institutions, Mr. Joshua Niles, spokesperson for the CB Cells Network said they were excited to be part and parcel of the process that will lead to a free, fair and credible elections. He challenged his colleagues to be patriotic to the core in carrying out their activities throughout the country as the nation goes through these crucial elections.