NEC Calls Parties to Verify Ballot Layout before Print

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The National Elections Commission (NEC) on Wednesday said it has completed the layout of ballots for the ensuing elections and has called on all political parties to send one representative each to the Commission for the verification of the layout. The NEC also called on independent candidates to attend the process of verifying the layout of the ballots before the final printing of the ballots takes place. Addressing journalists at the weekly elections update press briefing held at the Commission’s headquarters in Sinkor, Monrovia, NEC chairman Jerome G. Korkoya said: “The verification exercise will focus on the names of candidates and the emblems of the qualified political parties and independent candidates that were submitted to the Commission at the nomination center,” adding that the exercise began on Wednesday (August 23) and will end tomorrow, Saturday, August 26.

Touching on other issues Korkoya informed the public that the NEC has disqualified Nimba County Electoral District #9 candidate Dr. Michael Slawon for providing false information about his appointment to his current position at the National Commission on Higher Education (NCHE) to the nomination committee of the NEC. Dr. Slawon was appointed by President Sirleaf in 2011 to serve as the head of the National Commission on Higher Education and has since been serving in that capacity, but during the nomination of candidates at the SKD Sports Complex, he chose to only to inform the committee via the papers presented him that he is not a presidential appointee.

Cllr. Korkoya said even though people contesting both the legislative and presidential elections may succeed in seeing their names listed as candidates, it is also possible that any of them can be disqualified when acts inconsistent with elections laws and the Code of Conduct are discovered. “We indicated that any candidate on the final list could be removed if the final disposition of a case in which he or she is involved so warranted. And pursuant to that pronouncement, the Board of Commissioners (BOC) last week overturned the decision of the Candidate Nomination Committee (CNC) to qualify Dr. Michael Slawon to contest in Electoral District #9, Nimba County,” Korkoya said. He said that the Commission’s decision to deny Dr. Slawon’s nomination application was based, among others, on misinformation provided in his nomination application to the effect that he was not a presidential appointee when the evidence revealed the contrary. “Accordingly, his name has been ordered removed from the final list of candidates for the October 10 elections,” he noted.

Speaking on the recruitment of poll workers among others for the ensuing elections, he noted that the BOC has constituted a special committee with a mandate to work with special procedures in the recruitment of temporary staff. “The focus of this committee in the formulation of the standards and procedures will be on the doctrine of independence, commitment, integrity, and professionalism,” Korkoya noted. A total number of 28,367 temporary poll staff, including presiding officers (PO), voter identification officers (VIO), ballot papers issuers (BPI), ballot box controllers (BBC) and inkers, and queue controllers (QC) are expected to be recruited and trained. Korkoya warned that both complainants and respondents who have elections dispute cases may forfeit their right to the hearings should they fail to show up as they are doing now. “While the Commission is committed to respecting the due process and rights of every citizen, we regret to state that its efforts in this regard are being hindered by the failure of the parties to appear for hearings when cited. The Commission has made media publications calling on both complainants and respondents to come for the hearing of their cases without any success,” he said, adding that the Commission will dismiss the cases should they fail to show up. He mentioned Youth United Against Electoral Violence vs. Maxwell Grisby, Chester Gruanue v. Daynah A. Zoe, Othello Jerome vs. Daniel Debois, and Dweh Wilson vs. Patrick Nyenpan Kannyen, Sampson Kloh Wilson, Kaysieh Smith, Chris Aloysius Teah among nine cases on the desk of hearing officers that have not been heard due to failure on the part of both complainants and respondents to show up.

The NEC chair said the Commission, on Friday, August 18, launched the civic voter education campaign, adding: “The Commission wishes to call on all Liberians, including civil society organizations, members of the press, religious leaders, traditional leaders and political parties, to join the Commission in disseminating the CVE messages across the country.” The NEC has recruited and trained 436 civic educators and 219 gender mobilizers across the country for a period of two months to carry out the door to door outreach as well as face to face interactions with community dwellers.

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