The Liberia Elections Observation Network (LEON) has recommended to the National Elections Commission (NEC) that it improve its training methods and emphasize the needs of visually impaired people and other people with disabilities to ensure that they fully participate in future elections.
Benica Stephanie Elliot, election observer at LEON, said the recommendation aims to ensure inclusive and accessible elections in the future.
According to her, the NEC should develop comprehensive training programs that educate election staff on how to effectively assist visually impaired individuals and people with disabilities throughout the electoral process.
Elliot, who is also the President of the Federation of Liberian Youth, read the statement on LEON’s post-election day and its findings during the observation of voting, closing of polls, and counting during the second round of the 2023 presidential elections between President George M. Weah and Joseph N. Boakai of Unity Party.
She noted that the training method could include providing guidance on communication techniques, using tactile materials or Braille for ballot papers, and employing appropriate technology to facilitate voting for those with visual impairments.
Elliot used the medium to call on the NEC officials to improve on explaining the use of the tactile ballot to visually impaired voters with observers noting that voter aid tool was explained “always” in approximately 90.6 % of the polling places, compared to 77.9 % during the October 10 elections.
According to her, LEON’s preliminary assessment indicated that the voting, closing of polls, and counting processes are generally improved when compared to the October 10th presidential and legislative elections are based on LEON’s observers at assigned polling places from the 15 counties across the country.
Elliot said LEON reiterated that its observers and coordinators pledged to abide by a code of conduct to maintain their impartiality.
She also said that LEON calls on NEC to continue performing its professional duties efficiently and effectively during the results tabulation process.
Also speaking on the voting procedures, Elliot said LEON observers reported that in approximately 8.3% of polling places observed, individuals were allowed to vote without a valid voter card. Additionally, people were seen campaigning at the polling place during voting in approximately 5.8% of polling places observed.
She concluded by calling on all political parties and stakeholders to be patient and respect the electoral process to maintain a genuine, credible, transparent, safe, and inclusive second round of the 2023 presidential election in Liberia.