The Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) commends the National Elections Commission NEC for conducting the 2023 Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) on schedule and calls on all eligible voters to turn out and get registered.
Despite some early positive signs, the ECC has observed the trucking of voters from one county or electoral district to another by aspirants wishing to contest the elections. The ECC condemns this practice and calls on the NEC and other relevant state institutions to enforce the law on electoral offenses.
The ECC began observation of the biometric voter exercise on March 21, 2023, deploying 43 trained long-term observers to cover all six (6) counties and 36 electoral districts included in phase one of the voter registration.
According to observers’ reports, registration commenced in all electoral districts of the six counties, and centers observed had complete BVR kits present. However, ECC has received incident reports of malfunctioning BVR equipment from some of the centers observed and reports of voter trucking in some counties, namely, Gbarpolu, Grand Bassa, and Margibi.
So far, ECC has received reports of malfunctioning BVR card printers, solar panels, or overheating computers. Some of the centers affected include the following:
- Montserrado district 4, with center code 30125;
- Montserrado district 9, with center code 30390;
- Montserrado district 10, having center codes 30134 and 30291; and Montserrado district 12, having center codes 30217 and 30010.
ECC has observed that the malfunctioning of these equipment has resulted in delays in the registration process at some centers, including at the centers with the following codes 30125, 30134, and 30291, and in some instances, closure of the center for the entire day such as the West African Christian Institute, having code 30010. ECC, therefore, calls on the NEC to quickly respond and remedy the situation of malfunctioning equipment, as this may result in many eligible Liberians being unable to register in the timeframe allotted for phase one.
ECC also received a single incident report of the NEC Registrar abandoning the registration center, Special Project School (code 30294) for many hours, delaying the registration process. Additionally, ECC has received reports of NEC officials closing the centers before 5:00 pm, including refusal to register applicants who were in line at 5:00 pm. These incidents occurred at centers in Montserrado district 03 and 09, at the McDaniel Faith Academy with code 30276, and Wroto Town God of Mercy School with code 30390. ECC encourages the NEC electoral supervisors to provide adequate supervision of BVR teams and ensure that the centers remain open for the required time of the day.
The ECC also has received three incident reports of massive voter trucking by aspirants, some of which include students who are primarily first-time voters. Incidents of voter trucking reported by ECC observers are as follows:
- Margibi electoral district 1, Duazon Public School, having code 24105: ECC observer reported trucking over 100 students from the King Foundation School in Montserrado. Upon speaking with one of the students, the ECC observer was informed that Senatorial aspirant Nathaniel McGill negotiated with the King Foundation School Principal to truck these students because he, aspirant McGill had bought P.E Uniforms for the entire school.
- Gbarpolu electoral district 3, Zuo Primary School in Gbarma with center code 45069: ECC observer reported the trucking of voters by aspirant Amara Konneh, resulting in tension and disruption of the registration process and causing the victimization of citizens.
- Grand Bassa electoral district 4: ECC observer reported that representative Vincent Willy of Grand Bassa electoral district 4 trucked citizens to the district to get registered. According to the observer, this incident targeted many centers within the electoral district as the lawmaker dropped off citizens at a central location, who then made their way to different centers within the district.
The ECC wishes to emphasize that the acts of trucking by politicians constitute vote-buying with the intent to influence the outcome of the elections. , Finally, over the weekend, ECC received reports of violence, harassment, and intimidation of citizens and business owners within electoral district 10 by a group believed to be associated with the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) youth league and supporters of electoral district 10 representative, Yekeh Kolubah. This created serious unrest in the vicinity, resulting in the early closure of voter registration centers. ECC strongly condemns any act of violence and harassment intended to intimidate voters and calls on the security apparatus and other state institutions to enforce the laws to hold individuals accountable for their actions.
- ECC is admonishing political parties and aspirants to refrain from any further acts of trucking voters from one location to another.
- ECC recommends that political party leaders take actionable steps to address the issues of violence by their supporters, urging everyone to remain peaceful and allow the continuation of the voter registration process.
- ECC calls on the NEC to quickly rectify the issues of malfunctioning equipment to allow voters to register within the remaining timeframe for phase one.
- Given the slow pace of the registration process, the ECC calls on the NEC to extend the voter registration process by two more weeks.
The Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) is Liberia’s largest domestic election observation network with diverse competencies, experiences, and expertise in democracy, elections, and governance established since 2010. ECC’s members include the Center for Democratic Governance (CDG); Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP); Center for Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding (CECPAP); Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD); Naymote Partners for Democratic Development (NAYMOTE-PADD); West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP), and the Women NGO Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL). The ECC election observation effort is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). “The contents of this update are the responsibility of the ECC and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government”