Voters in the queue

By Jerromie S. Walters

In a press statement issued Tuesday, November 14, 2023, the National Elections Commission (NEC), called on all polling staff involved in calling out voters’ names to desist with immediate effect. But in a press statement hours later, UP said it sees NEC’s decision as an affront and a total disrespect to Sections 5,4and 5.6 of the new elections law, which requires that voter entering a polling place should state his/her name to the Voter ldentification Officer (VIO). NEC, in a meeting with UP and CDC promised to enforce this law.

However, Section 5.4. of the new elections provides- (Voting in Person): “ldentification of Voter Every person offering to vote at a polling place in any voting precinct during any election shall state his full name and produce hís registration card. Presiding Officer the voter shall state all particulars necessary for identifying his name as appeared on the registration roll under which the vote is claimed. 

It continues that the NEC Presiding Officer or one of his assistants shall verify on the register that the voter is registered and has not already voted at the particular election involved.

In an official NEC release issued Tuesday, November 14, 2023, the Commission disclosed it was alertedthat some party agents were demanding the polling staff to read out the names of voters prior to voting so that the voter is identified in Final Regisraion Roll (FRR) in the possession of party agents. 

According to NEC, the act is against the polling and counting procedures, and it has the propensity to expose voters to undue scruiny by unauthorized persons, thereby jeopardizing the protection of the voters.

NEC says it also compromises the secrecy of the veting process.  With this- the Commission, called on all polling staff involved in calling out voters’ names to desist with immediate effect.

“The Commission catcgorically denies and rejects reports that it has signed an MoU with political parties in this Presidential Run-off Election relative to the calling of voters’ names and checking their names against the copy of the FRR issued to political parties as this practice is against the NEC polling and counting procedures.”

“The Commission emphatically says that it did not issue any instruction to pre-mark ballots for the ongoing Presidential Run-off Election. All NEC ballots deployed to the magisterial offices and onward to the 2,080 precinct and 5,890 polling places remained intact for deployment for polling on 14 November 2023.”

Moreover, the Commission calls on all poliical party agents, electoral actors and stakebolders to desist from getting involved in illegal and disinformaion campaign that have the propensity to not only undermine the credibility of the ciectoral process but to even threaten the peace and stability of Liberia. 

“The NEC temporary staff conducting the pells are instructed to remain within the scope of the procedures they learned during their training for the Presidential Run-off Election.”

UP reaction

The opposition Unity Party says it is troubled by the Press Statement from the National Elections Commission (NEC), calling on its polling staff to reject and discontinue a process whereby a voter entering the polling room will state his/her name to the Commission’s Voter identification Officer (VIO).

“We strongly believe with 3 feet distance, Party agents will have the opportunity to hear the name of a voter and verify whether they are fully listed on the FRR. The FRR was issued to all political Parties by NEC for the purpose of verifying whether a voter is fully captured and listed in the FRR..”

The statement continues- “In a communication to NEC, dated October 24, 2023, the UP informed NEC that it would issue out hard copies of the FRR to poll watchers to validate the authenticity of a voter entering the polling room. The decision by NEC to abruptly discontinue the voter verification process by our polling agents raises serious eyebrows and seems to validate widespread speculation that there is plan by certain elements in NEC to conspire.”

“The Unity Party therefore rejects this action and calls on the Commission to ensure that the law is enforced as promised by NEC. The UP considers the release by NEC in the middle of polling as an attempt to disrupt and undermine the credibility and integrity of the runoff election.”

With this, the Unity Party called on all Party agents to insist on the implementation of the law.