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 Chairman Korkoya's Press Briefing Note - Elections Update September 20th, 2017

Cllr. Jerome G. Korkoya

Chairman, National Elections Commission

Regular press conference

 

  1. Welcome to this weekly press conference and update on preparations for the 10 October 2017 general elections.
  1. I want to highlight and respond to arising issues including:
  1. Some basic facts and figures on these elections;
  2. Voter register and SMS text service;
  3. Arrival of ballot papers and election material;
  4. Training progress;
  5. Campaign issues arising;
  6. Complaints and appeals.

Facts and figures

  1. Recruitment has been completed and training commenced. Details of polling staff recruited are being posted at county level. The number of temporary and permanent election staff working on these elections is 29,200. There are a total of 73 electoral districts across 15 counties, 2,080 electoral precincts and 5,390 polling places in line with the Elections Law articles 4.1 and 4.2.
  1. The National Elections Commission understands the joint civilian security services including the Liberia National Police, Fire Brigade, Immigration and other services will deploy some 6,000 officers on election day. This will include 1) at least two officers for each electoral precinct 2) escorts for election material; and 3) officers to provide security at storage sites.
  1. As of now over 3,500 national citizen observers will be deployed and 200 regional and international election observers to observe these elections. Many Liberia organizations have applied for accreditation demonstrating once again Liberian are committed to this democratic process.
  1. Regional and international organizations include the African Union, ECOWAS, Carter Center, National Democratic Institute and European Union. Diplomatic missions such as the United States, Japan and other embassies have applied also for accreditation. We encourage all organizations to submit any outstanding applications for accreditation as soon as possible. Our guidelines for observers are online.
  1. The National Elections Commission would like to take the opportunity to thank Liberian and international missions for their commitment to observing the 2017 general election in Liberia. I encourage them to issue precise and impartial statements and the media to report these accurately to ensure voters receive a full picture of the elections.

Voter register and SMS text service

  1. In line with the National Elections Commission’s commitment to make available the voter register the final voter register has been distributed to all 19 magisterial offices around the country in accordance with article 22, sub section 22.3, of the National Elections Commission’s Voter Registration Regulation of 2016. Distribution of the final voter register to political parties has also commenced. We would call on those parties that have not yet collected and signed for a copy to do so and contact the political affairs section to facilitate this.
  1. The SMS text service for voters to check their details is now live. The National Elections Commission has completed an agreement with the telephone provider Orange to provide this service. Any person can text their voter card number to 1847 and within minutes they will be able to access their details including the location of where they are registered to vote. We would like to ask the media to promote this service nationwide and assist in raising public awareness. 1847 is the number.

Arrival of ballot papers and election material

  1. A total of 100,000 mock ballots for each election and 1,210 tactile ballots for training purposes are already in Liberia and being used for training purposes. The 3,053,435 presidential and 3,112,725 legislative ballot papers are scheduled to start arriving in Liberia on 23/24 September 2017. There is a five and three percent contingency included in the respective amounts in line with international best practice. 30,000 tactile ballots will also be delivered for the visually impaired.
  1. Election material has started to arrive in Liberia. Pre-packed polling kits arrived in Liberia on the 17 September 2017 and a second batch on 19 September 2017. Polling booths arrived on 17 September 2017. Material will start to be despatched from Monrovia on 28 September 2017.
  1. Sample ballots papers have so far been produced for five of the counties: Grand Cape Mount, Bomi, Gbarpolu, Grand Bassa and Montserrado. Political parties are encourage to collect details from the political affairs section of the National Elections Commission. Sample ballots for all other counties will be ready this week, most likely tomorrow.
  1. Local distribution will of course be challenging. The infrastructure and weather are things beyond the National Election Commission’s control. However, we are well prepared and as soon as all material arrives in the country it will be processed in our warehouse and securely escorted throughout the country. The large bulk of material will be transported by road. Some very remote areas will require canoes. The commission has an operations plan and transport is ready and waiting to carry these materials.
  1. To increase our logistics capacity the National Elections Commission requested UNMIL to provide support in the transport of election material to the harder to reach areas of the country. I am very pleased to announce this request was met with a positive response from the UNMIL leadership. As a result we will have the option of air support to ensure material reaches these locations. I would particularly like to thank for Special Representative of the Secretary General.

Training progress

  1. Training of polling and elections staff started on 13 September 2017 with a training programme for 42 county level trainers. On 22 September the training for 416 electoral supervisors will commence. Training of 11,000 presiding officers and voter identification officers scheduled to start on 29 September 2017. Finally, during the first week of October 2017 around 17,000 polling station staff will be trained in procedures and areas related to their specific tasks on election day.
  1. In cooperation with the Angie Brooks International Centre, the National Elections Commission, also completed training last week for 19 magistrates to further improve and strengthen our capacity to handle complaints and appeals at county level. With our partners UNDP the commission are conducting further training this week with the Bar Association, political party representatives and media and civil society to increase understanding of the complaints and appeals process aimed to improve the quality of complaints that we may receive.

Campaign issues arising

  1. Two large rallies in Monrovia at the weekend were peaceful. I would like to commend all political parties for their continued commitment to the Ganta Resolution and Farmington Declaration. Let us all continue to promote a peaceful campaign.
  1. The National Elections Commission also encourages all political parties to continue to select and train political party agents. Pursuant to article 4.9 of the Elections Law accredited political party representatives are permitted in polling places.
  1. Party representatives and agents are an important part of transparency and to maximise their role they require training and coordinating by political parties in order that they understand the process clearly. The National Elections Commission has worked with political parties to conduct some training of trainers in procedures. And it encourages these parties to work with their field level structures to ensure they are well represented in polling places.

Complaints and appeals

  1. A final Supreme Court appeal involving the candidate registration process challenging the right of 11 political parties to contest the election was heard on 14 September 2017. A ruling is imminent. There are no pending cases at magistrates’ level and one case is outstanding at the National Elections Commission Board of Commissioners (Liberty Party vs. Unity Party). The hearing was conducted on 13 September 2017 and a decision is expected this week.

Closing

  1. The electoral timetable is on track. The National Elections Commission will continue to provide updates and welcomes the participation of all media outlets at these weekly briefings. Next week we will update on final preparations.


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