-For by-elections in 4 counties

A local elections observatory group, Liberia Elections Observation Network (LEON), has disclosed that it has observed what it terms a significant underrepresentation of women in the staff of the National Elections Commission for the 16 November Representative by-elections in Bong, Bomi, Nimba, and Grand Gedeh Counties.

Electorate went to the polls in four electoral districts in Bong, Bomi, Nimba, and Grand Gedeh Counties, to fill seats made vacant as a result of Reps of these districts being elected to the Liberian Senate following the 8 December special senatorial elections.

Howbeit, LEON in an opening of polls situation statement delivered midday on voting day reported that its observers observed that on the overall, there were 275 female polling staff out of a possibly 660 polling staff representing 41.6 percent of the staff present.

The group indicated that there were 26 female presiding officers representing 19.7 percent and 106 male presiding officers representing 80.3 percent of NEC’s presiding officers for the Tuesday’s by-elections.

“The number represents significant underrepresentation of women as presiding officers,” LEON emphasized, calling on the National Elections Commission to consider gender main-screaming as an important aspect of its implementation and that the Commission develops mechanism to achieve adequate inclusion of not only women but all marginalized groups such as people living with disabilities, in the country’s electoral processes.

Giving update on representation of political parties, security presence, and among others, the LEON announced that its observers have noted 99 percent of political party agents observed the polls, indicating that of party agents present, 66 were from the CDC, 107 from the CPP, 34 from the Rainbow Alliance, 14 from MPC, 23 from PLP, 13 from LTP, 35 from UPP, 56 from LRP, 72 from independent candidates, 18 from MOL, 17 from LINU, and 32 from MDR.

LEON notes that the presence of party agents in 99 percent of the polling centers covered by its observation centers will contribute to increasing electoral integrity, while group admonishes representatives of political parties to serve as clerks for the voting process.

Touching on security presence, the LEON said in accordance with NEC’s provision that allows forat least two security personnel to be present within the perimeters to each voting precinct, its observers observed security coverage in voting precincts at 99.9 percent, noting that given the Liberia’s history, police in elections is important to ensuring order, the security of voting materials, and deterring would-be troublemakers.

The group which is of the belief that the conduct of elections has been negatively affected by the advent of COVID-19 stated that it observed that to ensure the spread of the virus during the Tuesday by-elections was mitigated, several measures were put in place, with LEON reporting that both electoral officers and voters were in compliance with these measures. The LEON added that observers found that 69.7 percent of polling places had hand-washing buckets, as COVID-19 mitigating measure, and 61.4 percent of voters were made to stand at least one meter apart.

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