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 Grand Bassa County By-Election Ballot Papers Arrive in the country ……………..Electoral Process well on Course; says NEC Boss April 29th, 2013

The National Elections Commission (NEC) has brought into the country 186,000 Ballot Papers for the May 7, Senatorial By-Election in Grand Bassa County.

The Disclosure was made Monday by the Chairman of the Commission, Jerome George Korkoya, at a press conference held in Buchanan City.

Chairman Korkoya said the Ballot papers were printed in the West African State of Ghana.

“The Ballot Papers are now in the custody of the Commission under security provided by the Liberia National Police pending final packaging for distribution amongst the 336 Polling Places spread across the 176 Voting Precincts in Grand Bassa County.” The NEC Chairman noted.

Chairman Korkoya said logistical preparations for the Grand Bassa County Senatorial By-election are well on schedule as the Commission’s logistics personnel and the Grand Bassa County Elections Magistrate Office staff will commence the packaging and transporting of polling materials from NEC’s Central Warehouse to the various polling places beginning Friday, May 3, 2013.

He disclosed that the Packaging of sensitive polling materials, including Ballot Papers, has commenced and the deployment of polling staff as well as sensitive materials will be done between May 3 and May 7, 2013.

The NEC Chairman revealed that lanterns and an assortment of Barrier Tapes in addition to other non-sensitive materials are in Grand Bassa for the By-election.

“We should inform you also that the Commission has deployed a significant portion of its fleet of vehicles for the electoral process.  Besides, additional twelve (12) Trucks have been hired to augment the transportation of electoral materials, poll workers and security personnel.

Further still, about 16 canoes and the services of about 145 porters have been hired to ferry elections materials and staff across rivers in the county including other inaccessible areas.” Chairman Korkoya intimated.

On the status of political campaigning so far, the NEC Boss revealed that the Commission is satisfied with the peaceful manner in which the four (4) candidates in the Grand Bassa Senatorial By-election have conducted their campaign so far.

He said from reports gathered from the NEC staff across the county, the candidates have been conducting their campaign without any material incident.

“The responsible and peaceful manner in which the candidates and their supporters have so far conducted themselves during the campaign is certainly commendable and must be encouraged in the spirit of building a sustainable democratic culture in our country.” The NEC Boss averred.

He said the Commission, in collaboration with Radio Gbezhon with support from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), will conduct a public debate for the candidates in Buchanan City on Wednesday, May 1, 2013.

He said the debate is important to the provision of the opportunity for voters in the county to listen to the candidates’ platforms, ask questions and decide on whom to vote for.

Meanwhile, the Commission has commenced the training of polling staff in the County. The training exercise includes a cascade training for magisterial staff in the county to be followed by the training of Presiding Officers (POs) and Voters Identification Officers (VIOs) by the magistrates in the six different zones of Grand Bassa.

About 672 POs and VIOs will be trained. they would in turn provide briefings for about 900 other polling staff who fall within the categories of Ballot Paper Issuers, Inkers, Queue Controllers and Ballot Box Controllers.

A total of 1,680 polling staff will be selected to undergo the polling and counting procedural training and are expected to take up assignment at the 336 Polling Places spread over the 176 Voting Precincts on Election Day.

Voter Education as an important, critical element in the conduct of free and fair elections is also proceeding well in the county with the Commission intensifying its civic/voters’ education campaign which started on March 22nd geared at sensitizing and encouraging registered voters to turn out on May 7, 2013.

The Commission continues to distribute “Know Your Candidates” and “How to Mark Your Ballot” posters throughout Grand Bassa County.

The CVE Exercise is being carried out by NEC personnel and town criers, mobilizers and cultural troupes, all hired from the county.

Voter Education messages done in Bassa, Simple English and Kpelleh are being aired on various community radio stations in Grand Bassa County and other media outlets.

Consistent with the National Elections Commission’s commitment to a free, open, transparent and credible electoral process, the Commission has accredited Local and International Observers for the By-Election.

International and local observers accredited by the Commission to monitor the By-election are the United States Embassy, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), the Liberia Council of Churches (LCC); The Press Union of Liberia as well as agents from three political parties and the one Independent Candidate to monitor the by-election.

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