Frequently asked questions ( FAQ) - 2005 Liberian Elections


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Why an Electoral Reform Law?


The Parties to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) agreed that the electoral system of Liberia had to be reformed and reconstituted the National Elections Commission (NEC) for this purpose. It was later agreed that the best way to implement such reform was through a legislative process. This process has now been completed with the signature of Chairman Bryant.


Does the Electoral Reform Law replace the Constitution or the Elections Law of 1986?


No. The Electoral Reform Law temporarily suspends certain provisions of the Constitution and amends a number of sections of the 1986 Elections Law. Together with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, these three documents the Constitution, the Elections Law of 1986 and the Electoral Reform Law of 2004 form the legal framework for the 2005 elections.


What are the practical consequences of the Electoral Reform Law?


The Electoral Reform Law covers many areas in preparation for the 2005 elections. The most important ones are covered in this information sheet.



What kind of elections will be held in 2005?


Nation-wide elections will be held for the offices of the President and the Vice-President, the Senate, and the House of Representatives.



How was the date of 11 October chosen for the elections?


The Comprehensive Peace Agreement states that elections will be held no later than October 2005. The Constitution of Liberia provides that voting will be conducted on the second Tuesday of October of an election year. In 2005, the second Tuesday falls on the 11th day of the month.


How will elections be held for President and Vice-President?


There will be a two-round system for the offices of President and Vice-President. (The two candidates will run on a single ballot). A candidate needs to get an absolute majority of the votes, meaning at least 50% of all valid votes cast plus one vote. If none of the candidates has an absolute majority, a second round will be held with only the two candidates who had the highest votes. If a second round is held, the candidate with the majority of votes is elected.



How will elections be held for the Senate?


Each of the 15 counties will have two seats in the Senate. Elections will follow a simple majority system: the two candidates who obtain the highest and second highest numbers of valid votes cast shall be elected.


How will elections be held for the House of Representatives?


The House of Representatives will have 64 seats. Each seat will correspond to an electoral district. The candidate who obtains a simple majority in his or her electoral district will be elected to that seat. Voters will vote for a candidate, not for a party.


Were the old constituencies of 1985 maintained in the delimitation process?


No. Elections in the House of Representatives will be held on the basis of 64 new electoral districts.


How were these electoral districts defined? How were the 64 seats allocated?


The 64 districts were defined by the NEC on the basis of voter registration results, by dividing each of the 15 counties into districts that correspond to an approximately equal number of voters. The more voters registered for a county, the more seats that county received. However, each county is guaranteed by the law to receive no less than 2 seats/districts.


Are the electoral districts the same as the administrative districts from before?


No. The NEC defined the electoral districts only after the voter registration data had been collected. The NEC first and foremost ensured that each electoral district is fair and corresponded to an approximately equal number of voters.


Does this mean we will have elections based on proportional representation (PR)?


No. PR uses larger, multi-member constituencies. Instead, elections for the House of Representatives will use single-member electoral districts. The election for each electoral district/seat will be based on a simple majority system. This is not the PR system used in the 1997 elections.


Who may vote?


Every Liberian who is at least 18 years old at the end of the registration period and who holds a valid registration card may vote.


An eligible Liberian citizen needs to be registered by the NEC before he or she can vote, and before being able to run for office.


How did one register?


To register, a Liberian must have presented him- or herself at a registration centre. If the Registration Official was satisfied that the applicant was Liberian, 18 years old and above.


If not, the applicant had return to the registration centre with the following proof of eligibility:


         Two witnesses already registered that can identify him or her as an eligible voter; OR

         The confirmation by a Liberian traditional leader; OR

         A valid (non-expired) Liberian passport; OR

         A Liberian birth certificate; OR

         An evidence of renunciation of a second nationality; OR

         A certificate of naturalization



How did IDPs register?


Eligible IDPs registered in the IDP camp where they were living and could choose to register to vote for their country of origin, or for the county in which their camp is located. 71% of IDPs chose to register to vote in their county of origin.


What will happen to IDPs who are not repatriated by October 11?


IDPs who registered to vote in the county of origin and are not repatriated by October 11 will be able to vote only for President. This is because voters can only cast ballots for Senator and House of Representatives if they are in the districts where those candidates are running for election.


Where can eligible voters vote on polling day?


Eligible voters must vote where they registered. LNP officers who are assigned to a center different from the one they registered in will be given special provision to vote in the precinct they are assigned to on Election Day.


Can voters replace their cards if they get lost or damaged?


Yes. Voters who have lost their cards must present themselves at the county Magistrates office (September 17th-30th) to request a replacement card. The Magistrate will be issued a list of all registrants in that county for verification so that all the cards issued are replacement cards, not new VR cards.


Were eligible Liberians able to vote outside Liberia?


No. It was decided that Voter registration and polling would take place only within Liberia. Therefore, eligible Liberians who wish to vote have to be in Liberia during voter registration and on polling day.


Why was there no out-of-country registration?


The provision suspending out-of-country registration and voting is contained in the electoral reform law, which was adopted by the NTLA and Chairman Bryant, based on recommendations by the NEC.


There are important disadvantages to out-of-country voting. It would have been very expensive to organize, and would have required the permission of the host countries. The credibility and transparency of the process is also much more difficult to guarantee. Security in other countries would have been an extra concern. It would also have required politicians to campaign outside Liberia, and would not have provided an incentive for Liberians to return home.


How were new political parties established?


The NEC issued binding guidelines which described how political parties could canvass members and register with the NEC (see separate fact sheet on these guidelines). The Electoral Reform Law required that a new political party must have a minimum membership of 500 eligible voters in each of at least 12 counties.