BALLOT PAPERS HERE FOR 2011 PRESIDENTIAL AND LEGISLAITVE ELECTIONS
Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press; Fellow Liberians:
The National Elections Commission (NEC) is pleased to inform the citizens of Liberia that ballot papers for the 2011 Presidential and Legislative Elections have arrived in the country. The Presidential and Senatorial ballot papers were printed in Ghana while the ballot papers for the House of Representatives were printed in South Africa. The ballot papers are now in a secured storage under the protection of the Liberia National Police until preparations are finalized to have them deployed to the 4,457 Polling Places spread across the 1,780 Polling Precincts in the country.
The Commission has also received non-sensitive materials for the 2011 elections.
Logistical preparations for the 2011 Presidential and Legislative elections are well on course. NEC logistics personnel and the elections magisterial office staff have already begun transporting training material from the Central warehouse to various magisterial warehouses in the 19 elections magisterial areas. These will subsequently be distributed to all of the polling places across the country.
Packaging of sensitive polling materials including Ballot Papers will shortly commence and deployment of elections materials are expected to begin by September 23, and will end on October 10, 2011. During this period, all of the 4,457 polling places spread across the 1,780 Polling Precincts will be supplied electoral materials.
Ladies and gentlemen of the press, the Commission is glad to inform you that the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will hire 86 trucks, 298 pick-ups, 194 motorbikes, 132 canoes and 1,944 porters to help ferry electoral materials to various polling places across the country. The porters will be used across the country to convey electoral materials to centers that are not accessible by vehicles, while the canoes will be used to get materials across rivers and along the sea coast.
Additionally, the NEC will provide 9 trucks; 46 pick-ups and 76 motorbikes to help in the retrieval of electoral materials.
The Commission has also hired over 60 casual laborers that will help to package the sensitive and non-sensitive materials. They will work on two shifts, i.e. night and day.
The NEC Information Technology Section has been strengthened with assistance from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). V-SAT connectivity that will ensure the speedy transfer of results from the various voting centers across the country has been installed at the 19 elections magisterial areas across the country.
Training of tally staff across the country will commence in the first week of October.
They will basically be trained in the tally software which will be used during the counting and tallying of results. The Commission is grateful to IFES for its role in strengthening the IT section.
The Commission wishes to express satisfaction about the relative peaceful manner in which candidates contesting in these elections have conducted their campaigns so far. With very minor untoward disposition, generally, the candidates have been freely presenting their respective issues on their political platforms to the 1.798,930 million registered voters across the country.
However, the Commission regrets the political misbehaviors that have attended some campaign activities and wishes to admonish all political actors to refrain from indulging in activities that have got the proclivities of derailing the electoral process.
The Commission has observed that some radio stations and TV station have started running candidate debates. I am reliably told that these efforts will be complimented by our partners, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) who will be organizing senatorial and presidential debates respectively in due course. I must say these efforts are laudable because they essentially provide a perfect opportunity for the electorate to listen to the candidates’ platforms, ask questions and decide who to vote for. We urge all to see reasons to be civil during these debates and allow frank exchanges to characterize these debates.
We crave the indulgence of all candidates to exhibit political mellowness for the rest of the political campaign period. NEC admonishes all candidates to continue to display the spirit of tolerance and conduct non-violent campaign.
TRAINING OF POLLING STAFF
A three day Training of Trainers (TOT) workshopfor representatives of political parties and independent candidates who will act as agents was conducted on September 14 to 16. They were drilled on the duties of party agents and given an overview of what will obtain during the opening of polls, the polling process, counting of the votes and closing procedures. These party agents will then proceed to train their respective agents across the country.
From September 16 up to October 9, 2011, there will be a series of Training of Trainers (TOT) courses for Headquarters Electoral Supervising Officers, Magisterial staff, Electoral Supervisors, Polling Centers Staff, Presiding Officers, Voters Identification Officers.
This cascade training will entail that all trainers move on to train other poll workers such as Inkers, Ballot Paper Issuers, Queue Controllers, and Ballot Box Controllers among others.
With about 24 days to the conduct of the Presidential and Legislative Elections, the Commission has intensified its civic/voters’ education campaign to sensitize and encourage registered voters to turn out en-masse on October 11, 2011.
The Commission has adopted ‘Three Front’ CVE plan for the elections.
They include: (I). Media and Publicity; (II). Printed Materials and (III) Out Reach.
Under the media and publicity front, the Commission has produced two elections videos, four sets of drama and jingles depicting CVE messages that teach the voters the voting steps and how to mark the ballot papers and a motivational video aimed at encouraging people to turn out and vote on Election Day. Also under this front, the Public Information Section organizes press interviews for NEC election technicians to provide insight on various electoral events from time to time.
On the second front, the Commission has hired the services of about eight Liberian printing houses to help in the production of CVE banners, stickers, bill boards, CVE manuals as well as other paraphernalia intended to educate registered voters as to the steps involved in exercising their franchise.
On the third CVE front, the Commission, in collaboration with partners, has recruited Community Based and Civil Society Organizations to help in the delivery of a synchronized CVE content delivery.
Towards this end, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) has recruited 19 CSOs; the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS) has recruited 8 CSOs; the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has recruited 17 CSOs, while the National Democratic Institute (NDI) has also hired the services of 5 CSOs to carry out civic education across the country.
These organizations and 150 Civic Educators are now spread across the country delivering CVE messages.
The UNMIL outreach section has also offered to duplicate CVE jingles and drama and translate them in the various vernaculars which will be aired on all community radio.
ACCREDITATION OF OBSERVERS
The Commission wishes to announce that accreditation of Local and International Observers started since July 9, 2011, ahead of the Referendum and is currently ongoing. To date, the Commission has accredited 2,834 Local Observers and 372 International Observers.
The Commission also wishes to indicate that local and international organizations observation of the electoral process is welcomed. It is the view of the NEC that the observation of the process enhances transparency and lends credibility to it.
Security arrangements for the elections are being coordinated with the Liberian National Police (LNP), the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization (BIN) and the UNMIL security unit.
A new security line up will feature in these elections. That is the Liberia Red Cross will provide aid in the area of physical security. By this understanding, the Red Cross will provide emergency attention to polling staff and voters in case of any mishaps or accidents.
The Commission extols all stakeholders and the entire citizenry for their understanding and support to the process.
The NEC also acknowledges the laudable contributions of other partners including UNDP, IFES, ECOWAS, EU, USAID, Japan and other friendly nations as well as well-wishers.
GOVERNMENT SUPPORT TO THE ELECTORAL PROCESS
The NEC is pleased to announce that the Government of Liberia has given 5.6 Million United States dollars to the Commission as its final installment of support to the electoral process. This amount will be used to cover expenses associated with training, payment of polling staff, deployment of logistics, and movement of sensitive materials and to carry out civic /voters’ education across the country.
The Commission extends gratitude to the Government of Liberia for its unwavering support to the electoral process.
I Thank You.