Two contractual workers assigned with the National Elections Commission (NEC) Grand Bassa County voter registration (VR) center have died reportedly of various ailments, NEC Chairman, Cllr. Jerome G. Korkoyah has confirmed.
The deaths of the two took place separately after each suffered a period of illness while carrying out their respective assignments as NEC workers in the county.
“The Commission is saddened to report that since the start of the VR exercise, two of its temporary staff, 1 registration supervisor and 1 Shader in Grand Bassa County have passed,” Cllr Korkoyah told reporters in Monrovia at a press conference.
He said while the NEC regrets the passing of the two VR staff, it is in prayer that the bereaved families will take solace in the Lord.
In another development, the NEC will today February 28, conduct by-elections in Lofa County’s Electoral District #1 to fill the vacancy of the lone representative seat created as a result of the death of the district.
NEC is expected to announce the final results of that election by March 1.
“The polls will open at 8:a.m. and close at 8:p.m.,” Korkoyah said, adding that counting will commence immediately thereafter in keeping with NEC’s polling and counting procedures.
He said the certification of the winner will be done in the county.
Ahead of today’s poll, Korkoyah said all logistical arrangements have been completed and police officers, polling staff and election materials are already deployed at all of the polling places.
The Voter Registration Exercise
The NEC Chairman said glitches in the ongoing VR process have received sufficient attention based on reports gathered from the field and are being addressed.
“Upon receipt of those reports, the Commission along with its partner, UNDP, moved in swiftly to correct the situations,” he said.
Korkoyah noted that technicians from the company that manufactured the cameras were brought into the country and deployed at strategic locations, including the headquarters of the Commission to repair the malfunctioning cameras, while additional ones were procured locally.
“While we do not guarantee that there will be no more break down of cameras, we are confident that if anything wrong happens to them, we are prepared to deal with the situation at once,” he assured.
“After almost four weeks in the VR process, the turnout is not encouraging,” Korkoyah said, adding that the extension of time for the exercise may only come about based on the availability of funding and demand from the voting public.
He said since the start of the VR exercise on February 1 to date, the Commission has deployed a total of 2,552,000 forms to its 19 magisterial offices across the country, and has in its possession a buffer of 1,300,000 forms packed to be deployed if and when there is demand.
“Of the 2.5 million forms deployed, 1,046,888 have been returned to our headquarters and are being scanned. That leaves us with 1,505,112 forms at work in process stage in the field,” he said.
Cllr. Korkoyah noted that it is not possible for NEC to currently give accurate statistics on gender based participation in the VR process, but the data reading on the scanning machines at the Commission’s head office shows that women are not registering in good numbers as expected.
“With women vying for seats and wanting affirmative action to be implemented in this upcoming electoral period, they need to remember that it will not come on a silver platter, but only through their own participation,” he said.
He said four VR centers have been closed because they have each reached the required number of 3000 registrants.
“Two VR centers in Upper Bong County and two in Montserrado have been closed because each has reached NEC’s required number of registrants of 3000,” Korkoyah said.