The Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) has complemented two stakeholders’ engagements it organized to validate its observation deployment and communications strategies for the upcoming voter registration, which begins from February 1 to March 24 across the country.
The exercise, according to ECC’s chairperson, Oscar Bloh, is part of preparations the entity has put in place to observe the upcoming voter registration process.
The forum for the first day which was held from December 28 and 29, 2016, brought together representatives from civil society organizations (CSOs) and the National Elections Commission (NEC), while the second engagement included executives from both the print and electronic media.
The objective of the Deployment Strategy, Mr. Bloh said, is to guide the ECC in observing the voter registration exercise that the NEC will conduct nationwide.
Mr. Bloh: “On the other hand, the objective of the communication strategy is to lay the framework for engaging the media and other electoral stakeholders.”
The ECC, he said, will recruit, train and deploy 73 long term observers and 16 county coordinators. The observation will cover the country’s 73 electoral districts.
According to Bloh, each observer will be assigned to an electoral district where the coordinators will serve as supervisors for the observers, who will cover specific registration centers during the voter registration period by gathering quality information about the process and reporting directly to the ECC Secretariat. The observation will also include the exhibition period of the preliminary voters’ list as well as the process of rejection of particular individuals, if any, and complaint hearing emanating from the rejection.
The observation will be done in phases and will cover 15 of the total number of days stipulated by the NEC. Phase one will target five days of the first week; phase two, five days during the middle of the process and; phase three, five days during the last week. Periodic and provisional statements will be released at the end of each phase of the observation, with a comprehensive report at the end of the third and final phase.
During the observation, Mr. Bloh told reporters that the ECC will be looking out for easy access to registration centers for citizens, particularly the elderly, pregnant women and people who are physically and visually impaired (the blind). The observation will also include the extent to which NEC is in compliance with the voter registration regulation and elections law, identifying obstacles and challenges that could impede the registration process and assessing whether there are patterns and trends for denying particular groups of potential voters from registering.
To improve the quality of data that will be collected, the ECC will train the observers in the use of checklist and critical incident forms that the ECC will develop. The checklist and critical incident forms will be the instruments by which information will be gathered.
The ECC has meanwhile called on the NEC to hold political parties and candidates accountable for using other forms of gathering as a pretext to engage in political campaigning outside of the stipulated time set by the NEC.
The ECC is the civil society platform that observes elections in Liberia and works in partnership with the National Democratic Institute with support from USAID.