House Approves ‘Electoral Threshold Resolution’ for 2017

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More than forty nine members of the House of Representatives, which is two-thirds of the members, have affixed their signatures to endorse a Special Electoral Threshold Resolution for the 2017 Presidential and Legislative Elections, the Daily Observer has learned.

The ‘Special Electoral Threshold Resolution’ is expected to be transmitted to the Senate today (November 10) for concurrence, which is styled, “A Joint Resolution LEG-002 (2016)” Adopted by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the 53rd Legislature, prescribing a Special Threshold for Electoral Constituencies for 2017 Presidential and Representative Elections in Liberia.”

The Joint Resolution would legally mandate the National Elections Commission (NEC) to maintain 73 electoral districts for the 2017 Presidential and Legislative Elections.

The Resolution said: “Immediately upon the adoption and passage of this 002/2016 Joint Resolution, the Special Electoral Threshold adopted and passed by the 52nd Legislature for the conduct of the 2011 Presidential and Legislative Elections, which established the existing 73 electoral districts is hereby maintained for the conduct of the 2017 Presidential and Representative Elections; and that the question of prescribing a constituency threshold be tabled until after the 2018 National Housing and Population Census, at which time all citizens will have been reasonably resettled to their respective places of residence to be reflective of the people’s will and not by force of war as was reviewed by the 2008 National Housing and Population Census Report.”

The Resolution also said: “Considering that, the National Elections Commission’s request of a threshold to enable it reapportion constituencies for the 2017 Presidential and Representatives Elections is not only consistent with the organic law of the land but also foundational in internationally acceptable best electioneering practices.”

It added: “Acknowledging further, that based on this constitutional provisions cited above, the NEC on July 16, 2016 forwarded a request before the House requesting this Honorable Body to set up a threshold that would enable the NEC to apportion electoral constituencies for the 2017 Presidential and
Representatives Elections.

“Concluding that on that basis of history and electoral tradition premised on Article 80 (d) & (e) of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia, which assumes that a threshold prescribed by the Legislature on the basis of a census report would serve two regular electoral periods of six years, it would lawfully be incorrect and politically troublesome for the 53rd Legislature to prescribe a new threshold on the basis of a census report for which the 52nd Legislature had already requested the NEC to maintain the sixty four (64) electoral districts and only add nine electoral districts to be spread in the counties of Grand
Bassa, Bong, Lofa, Margibi, Montserrado and Nimba based on a fraction of the percentage contribution of the current seats each of the counties herein named above to their total number of seats in the Legislature.”

Meanwhile, NEC has released key dates leading up to the 2017 Presidential and Legislative Elections.

The dates are subject to change as conditions may demand, according to NEC. “But as for October 10, it will remain unchanged because that is provided for by the Constitution as the official date for the elections,” the NEC said.

According to NEC calendar of events, on June 20, the Commission will publish voters’ roll regulations: July 20 to November 30, will begin the accreditation process of civil society and community based organizations; while on November 15, there will be a regional consultation on Civic Voter Education (CVE).

On December 5, NEC will begin the accreditation of party agents, media and observers for voter registration process. On December 29, NEC will publish the list of registration centers and on January 4, 2017, the official launch of CVE for registration will take place.

February 1 to March 24, 2017 is the voter registration period. From May 3 to June 20, 2017, Civic Voter Education for exhibition will be held; May 9, 2017, issuing writ of elections; June 9-30, 2017, accreditation of party agents, media and observers for elections will take place.

Other dates are June 10-20, 2017, exhibition of provisional registration roll and distribution of voter ID cards; June 10-24, 2017, objections and appeals on exhibition to be held and determined; July 1, 2017, release of final voter registration figures; July 2-24, 2017, candidate nominations; July 2-August 9,

2017, objections and appeals on nominations; and July 4, 2017, launch of CVE for 2017 elections.

The remaining dates include July 27, 2017, preliminary list of candidates published; August 8, 2017, final list of candidates published; August 8-October 8, 2017, presidential and representative campaign period; August 15-September 30, 2017, candidates debate period; October 10, 2017, Election Day; and October 25, 2017, announcement of final results.

The 2017 elections will be the third presidential and representative elections since the end of the civil crisis in 2003.

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