The Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) releases its initial update on the 2022 senatorial by-election in Lofa County. The ECC received reports from 92 out of the 162 precincts throughout Lofa County as of 2:00 PM on June 28, 2022. This update focuses on the set-up and opening of voting precincts and polling places. At this time, the ECC had received 56% of reports from its 162 Precinct Observers. The 44% of the reports could not be received by the Data Center due to poor GSM connectivity, primarily in Vahun, Lofa electoral district #2. We will expect these reports to come in by the end of the day.
Generally, ECC observers’ reports indicate that the opening process has been peaceful, orderly, and proceeding smoothly. The ECC has recorded no serious critical incidents during the opening and set-up process. By 7:00am, 56% of ECC Observers who reported were at their assigned voting precincts. ECC observers reported that voting generally commenced on time in most of the observed polling places. By 8:15 am, 90% of polling places observed had opened. Another 10% opened by 10:00am.
ECC Deployment Methodology
The ECC has deployed 168 trained and accredited observers in all 5 electoral districts of Lofa County. This includes 162 precinct observers, 5 electoral district supervisors, and 1 county coordinator. The 162 precinct observers have been deployed at designated voting precincts to observe throughout the election day to report on the opening, set-up, voting, closing, counting, and tabulation of results. This deployment methodology enables the ECC to comment on the process by drawing on data points from every district within the county. Additionally, the 5 (five) electoral supervisors and 1 (one) County Coordinator have been deployed as mobile observers to observe the general electoral environment while at the same time supervising the activities of the precinct observers and reporting critical incidents whenever they occur.
Arrival at Voting Precincts
For arrival, ECC observers reported the following:
- In all of the voting precincts observed, National Election Commission (NEC) staff respected the ECC Observer’s status as accredited observers and permitted them to observe.
- 48% of the observed precincts were not accessible to people with disabilities or the elderly due to the use of stairs.
- In 98% of voting precincts observed, security personnel were seen deployed in the area. This is commendable considering the heightened political interests in this election.
- COVID-19 prevention materials, which include a thermometer, hand washing bucket, soap/detergent, or hand sanitizer were seen in 98% of precincts observed.
- In 98% of observed voting precincts, the NEC had deployed a Precinct Queue Controller to ensure the orderly conduct of queues at the precinct.
Polling Place Set-Up
During set-up, ECC observers reported the following:
- That 87% of polling places observed had all five NEC staff present with 31% having at least two women. However, only 13% indicated a female serving as Presiding Officer. ● That all sensitive materials (including the ballots, ballot stamp, indelible ink, the Final Registration Roll (FRR), and the Record of the Count Forms) were available at 99% of polling places at the time of opening.
- The NEC presiding officer showed that the ballot boxes were empty and in all of the polling places observed, the presiding officer sealed each of the ballot boxes with four seals.
The ECC Data Information Center is also collecting critical incident reports from all 168 observers. Generally, ECC observers’ reports indicate that the opening process has been peaceful, orderly, and proceeding smoothly. The ECC has recorded no serious critical incidents during the opening and set-up process.
However, the ECC has received only two reports of a critical incident from Foyah, electoral district # 1 at a precinct having code 21046, Worsongai Public School. The ECC observer at this precinct reported that a group of men serving as candidate agents alleged that there was a supposed influx of voters from Sierra Leone who had come to vote. This created tension and a temporary halt in the voting process which further caused fear in some voters causing them to return home. It was further reported that those same men attacked the town chief who tried to intervene but the situation was later controlled by state security.
It was also reported from the same voting precinct that a businesswoman voter’s card was seized by an immigration officer denying her vote on grounds that she had just returned from Sierra Leone.
This statement only covers information we have collected during the set-up and opening process. The ECC will continue to monitor the electoral environment and will have more comprehensive information in future updates.
- The ECC urges the NEC to communicate to the public reasons for any delay at any precinct(s).
- Voters should remain patient and peaceful in exercising their right to vote. Polling places will be open until 6:00pm and everyone in the queue before that time should be allowed to vote.
- The ECC encourages political party agents should continue to monitor the process through closing and counting.
- The ECC encourages the media to be conflict-sensitive in their reportage on the election.
About the ECC and its Observation of the 2022 Lofa Senatorial by-elections
The Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC), is the largest civil society platform that observes elections in Liberia is comprising several organizations: 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; West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP) and the Women’s NGO Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL). CDG serves as the chair of ECC. The ECC 2022 observation effort is conducted in partnership with Democracy International (DI) and with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).