Authorities of the National Elections Commission (NEC) yesterday announced that they have hired a European company to print ballot papers for the October polls. Jerome G. Korkoya, NEC chair, made the disclosure yesterday during a regular weekly press briefing at the Commission’s headquarters in Monrovia. Korkoya said the Commission has already concluded the process of selecting a “reputable company” noted for printing election materials, including ballot papers, from Europe. “The company has gone through all of our procurement procedures, and was determined to be the most responsive bidder,” Korkoya said.
Although Korkoya did not name the company in question, he said NEC will encourage all qualified political parties’ representatives as well as independent candidates to go to Europe and monitor on behalf of their respective institutions the ballot printing process, but added that those interested in going to Europe to authentic the process will do so at their own expense. “They will pay for their own plane tickets, lodging and internal travels therein in case any group of friends choose to go to Europe,” Korkoya added.
He said the Commission will ‘very soon’ make known to the public, dates in connection with the printing of the ballot papers after NEC concludes consultations with the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC). “Currently, the Commission has contracted the services of a ballot paper designer to do the designing of the papers for onward submission to the selected printer in Europe. We have assessed his designs and found out that he is compatible with our needs,” he said.
As of the other electoral issues, Korkoya reported that the Commission has created 5,390 polling places around the country for the ensuing elections, and that each center will be entitled to attend to 550 (maximum) registered voters on October 10. He noted that the assignment of such numbers of qualified voters to each center is in line with the Commission’s counting procedures.
In a related development, Korkoya said IFES, NDI and UNMIL have agreed to support three very important training programs for all qualified political parties. “The first of the training which is supported by IFES will be on campaign finance and is expected to kick off tomorrow (today) in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County. The funding for this training will come from USAID,” Korkoya noted. He encouraged all political parties to take advantage of the training so as to learn how to meticulously manage and spend their finances in the ongoing campaign. The other two training expected to get underway will be on alternative dispute resolution and the representation of parties and candidates by their agents at the polling stations.
About complaints and objections filed to the Commission, he noted that 34 cases bordering on the Code of Conduct and other related nomination related issues were received and heard by it. “Twenty three of these cases bordering on the Code of Conduct are being resolved based on the ruling of the Honorable Supreme Court in the Karnwea and Liberty Party versus NEC opinion,” he said. He urged that “While we welcome complaints during every stage of this electoral process, we advise that those complaints be made within the time provided by the Elections Law. Any complaint brought forward outside of the laws will hinder the Commission from looking into them because doing so will be in violation of some of the same Elections Law.” Korkoya admonished that all those whose voter cards are missing or damaged should take advantage of August 7 to 12 as the only time set aside to replace lost or damaged voter cards. As for national and international partners working with NEC now, he called on them to verify all elections matters directly with the Commission, instead of through outside sources and spreading rumors that may cause havoc.
He, meanwhile, said the Board of Commissioners at the NEC will today hand down rulings in the Sando Johnson-Edwin Snowe domicile case and the Snowe-Karmo voter registration objection case.