6 september 2005
Talking Points
Hon. James M. Fromayan
co-Chair of the National Elections Commission



r     Printing of the FRR


Printing of the Final Registration Roll (FRR) began on Monday, September 5, 2005. Sinoe, Maryland, River Cess and River Gee counties are being printed first because these counties are remote, and their FRRs need to be available for delivery as early as possible. Those counties with higher accessibility, or that are closer to Monrovia, will be printed last. The Final Registration Roll is to be completed by Saturday September 17, 2005. The final number of registrants on the FRR is being confirmed and will be finalized by Friday, September 9, 2005.


r     More Voter Education Materials


As part of NEC’s ongoing Voter Education efforts, new banners have been produced and are available to be shipped to the counties this week. The banners give information on obtaining replacement cards, and “Vote first, your vote is important,” which urges women to vote before undertaking their chores.


Audio tapes of the weekly program “Dis Voting Thing” have been duplicated and will be shared with 30 community radio stations around the country in order to more efficiently include listeners in the rural areas.


r     Court Cases


The NEC has forwarded approximately 200 cases of suspected multiple or underage registrations to Liberia’s Ministry of Justice. These are pending action from the Ministry and will be decided by the national courts.


Three other cases have been argued before the Supreme Court. One of these is of aspirants challenging the rejection of their applications to stand as candidates because they were not registered voters.  According to Section 23.2 of the Guidelines Relating to the Registration of Political Parties and Independent Candidates, registration is a pre-requisite for candidacy.


The issue of ‘one person, one vote’ will be argued on Wednesday, September 7, 2005. In another case, LEAD Party wanted to present their own Senate candidate, even though the party is a member of an alliance. The Commission contends that a political party that is member of an alliance cannot present a candidate as an individual party without first withdrawing from the alliance, the deadline for which was ten weeks before the date of the election.


In a joint suit, some rejected independent candidates contend that they were denied the due process of law by the Commission, because they were not given time to correct deficiencies in their applications. They also contend that NEC was unfair to independent candidates as compared to political parties because the Guidelines allowed political parties about six to seven months to obtain their lists of eligible voters, while independent candidates were required to file petition lists of registered voters in less than three months. This was submitted on September 5, 2005 with a decision outstanding.


r     Voter Education Song Launched


On Saturday, September 3, 2005 NEC launched "Jingles and Songs" produced by Liberia Crusaders for Peace. The messages in the song are about voting day, and encourage voters to bring their Voter Registration Cards, form orderly queues, bring food and umbrellas, etc.


During the launching program the performers staged traditional dances and sensitized the public on the election date, the number of ballots, the colors of the ballot papers, the time for opening and closing of the polls, and where the counting will take place. CDs, tapes and T-shirts were distributed to people attending the event.


One version of the song is in Standard English and another in Liberian English. The song is being availed to commercial and community radio stations for public dissemination.


r     Summary of Questions and Answers


Asked about NEC’s state of readiness for a possible run-off election in the event that no presidential candidate obtains an absolute majority (fifty percent + 1 vote) in the elections on October 11, Co-Chair Fromayan said the Commission is fully aware of this possibility and is making adequate preparations with support from its international partners.


The Co-Chair said logistical arrangements, are being worked out in advance. He added that when the results of the elections begin to come in, a clear picture will emerge on whether or not there will be a second round of voting. He said by law the NEC must announce the official results by October 26, and it will require about 2 weeks thereafter to prepare for a run-off. He disclosed that a tentative date of November 8 is being considered for a run-off.


            On the claim by some rejected candidates that, in disqualifying them, NEC acted in violation of section 19.3 of its Guidelines which provides for a 7-day period for correction of deficiencies in candidate nominations, the Co-Chair said the Commission acted fully in line with the Guidelines. He said the nomination process which ran from July 21 through August 6 provided adequate time for candidates to submit complete applications and provided time to correct deficiencies in their applications.


Co-Chair Fromayan explained that candidates were advised to make early submissions so that if deficiencies were detected by NEC they would be able to take advantage of the 7 days to make the necessary corrections before the process closed. He noted that those candidates who waited until the last few days of the process had to make sure that their documents were in order.


Regarding the court case filed against NEC by COTOL which is arguing that, since there are two senators for a county, voters should be allowed to vote for two candidates per county in the Senate elections, Co-Chair Fromayan clarified that in line with the law, each voter is entitled to a single vote. “This has been the trend and this is what the law says,” he noted.


            Asked what would be the position of NEC if the Supreme Court ruled against the Commission in this case and other challenges filed by rejected candidates, the Co-Chair said he preferred not to delve into these matters since they were still in the hands of the Supreme Court, but noted that their determination was within the purview of the Court.


            On the question of why the NEC was proceeding with the printing of the ballots whereas rulings in several court cases filed against the Commission are pending, the Co-Chair said NEC cannot put the electoral process at a standstill simply because some people are raising contentions of being treated unfairly. He stressed that the elections are set for October 11 and NEC has to continue working towards that date and not be distracted from the extensive logistical preparations. “Life has to go on,” the Co-Chair pointed out.


            Requested to provide an update on the printing of the ballots, the Co-Chair said the process is progressing smoothly. He reiterated that political parties have been invited to travel to Ghana, where the ballots are being printed, to observe the process. He confirmed that approximately 2 million of each of the three kinds of ballot (President/Vice President, Senate and House of Representatives) are being printed.