NEC Updates BVR Process -Optimistic Despite Challenges

MONROVIA – With about a week gone in the Biometric Voters Registration process, the National Elections Commission (NEC) has expressed optimism in the exercise thus far despite some of the challenges being experienced while it has commended the enthusiasm and commitment being exhibited by citizens to turn out in their numbers to enroll in the exercise and receive their voters card for use in the 2023 general elections.

Speaking on the process on Friday, March 24, 2023, at the National Headquarters of NEC, the Chairperson Madam Davidetta Brown-Lassanah said the Commission was pleased to citizens that the voter registration exercise in the Phase One counties of Bomi, Gbarpolu, Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount, Margibi and Montserrado counties commenced on 20 March 2023 as planned and is generally progressing well with 1,605 registration centers commencing simultaneously. 

“The Commission notes that there were some technical glitches at the beginning of the exercise, which delayed the commencement of registration at some voter registration centers. These were basically to do with limited understanding by some of our temporary registration staff on how to set up, how to activate, and how to troubleshoot the new system.

“The Commission is still grappling with the refusal of some facility owners/caretakers to grant our BVR staff access to their facilities. In some areas where the NEC initially set up, ultimatums were issued by owners for the NEC to vacate premises within days following the start of the BR process. This has led the NEC to improvise by constructing makeshift structures nearby where voter registration continues.

“As with the introduction of every technology, it is not unusual for glitches to occur at the initial stages. These challenges are not peculiar to Liberia. Indeed, similar cases have been reported in other countries which, despite the initial glitches, ended up having very successful registration drives”, she said.

She said to address these challenges the Commission has deployed technical mobile teams to support field staff and has continued to solve issues that arise.

Madam Brown Lassanah further said besides the technical and operational glitches, the NEC has received reports of incidence of violence related to “Trucking of Voters” and crowd control, commending members of the Joint Security which has been responding to some of the situations.

“The NEC assures the public that despite the initial glitches, the Commission reports that as of the 20 March commencement of the BVR process, registration of Liberians 18 years and above indicates that an average of 100 Liberians are being registered at each of the 1065 registrations per day.

“Meanwhile, the Commission has observed with pleasure, the enthusiasm from Liberians (18 years and above), including first time voters, in long queues at the various registration centers. In the same vein, we call on all Liberians to exercise patience and remain orderly at the voter registration centers as the Commission works to ensure a smoother process.

“The Commission condemns in the strongest terms the attack on Journalist Diamond N. Slanger of the Spoon Communication Network, by an electoral supervisor known as Thomas Bryant. The Commission will not condone these acts of violence by electoral workers and has therefore terminated the services of Mr. Bryant with immediate effect”, she said.

The NEC Chairperson said at the same time, the Commission is concerned for the health of Amelia M. Massaquoi, a temporary staff member, who sustained injury, while performing her patriotic duty to Liberians during this voter registration period.

“Finally, the Commission extends its thanks and appreciation to the people of Liberia for the great interest they have in the conduct of biometric voter registration in Liberia. This is indicative in the high turnout to be registered and the support that field staff have received from many owners of properties that have ensured the positioning of our staff and BVR equipment in the field. We also want to extend thanks and appreciation to the international community including observers for the feedback that the commission is receiving on the BR process. We also extend our thanks to the Ministry of Justice through its agencies, including the LNP, LIS, etc. that are working to ensure a violent-free process. The Commission extends thanks to the NEC staff for their diligence in support of a smooth BVR process. Finally, we say thank you to Liberians in general for their many mobile calls where issues with the conduct of the BVR process have been reported to the Commission.

“The Commission assures all Liberians, all stakeholders and electoral actors that the NEC will continue to work with you to the successful conclusion of the BVR process”, she concluded.

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