Authorities at the National Elections Commission (NEC) yesterday debunked Dr. Togba Nah-Tipoteh’s claims that the figure of registered voters announced by the commission was unrealistic and unimaginable, considering that there were low turn outs of people and several challenges at the time of the voter registration (VR) process.
NEC chairman Jerome G. Korkoya said under no condition could the Commission carry out the registration process without contacting the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS), which is responsible for data on population and other demographic issues. Korkoya said the figure of 2.1 million registered voters for the ensuing elections was neither created out of imagination, nor through any fraudulent means. “We are taken aback by Tipoteh’s numerous assertions, but among them is his claim that it is not realistic that this Commission succeeded in registering over two million potential voters for the ensuing representative and presidential elections,” Korkoya said.
It can be recalled that Tipoteh recently questioned the possibility of the NEC registering over two million voters when there were several reported VR frauds and challenges. He also noted that the country’s population, which is now approximated 4.5 million, lacks the number of potential voters as announced by the NEC. To that, Korkoya pledged to have the head of LISGIS “come and provide some clarity so…everyone understands.” He then admonished Tipoteh and others ‘spreading falsehood’ on elections matters to do the country the most honorable thing by seeking the right information from the right authorities.
In a related development, Korkoya said the NEC has concluded the signing of the contract with the Slovenian company that will be printing the ballot papers. “The Commission has concluded the signing of the ballot printing contract with CETIS. Ballot papers for the representatives will be printed in Ghana, while the presidential candidates’ ballot papers will be printed in Slovenia,” he said. Korkoya noted that the decision to print the ballot papers in two different countries was based on a technical advice the company provided. “The PPCC, NEC and all its partners were part of the consultations and we all agreed with the company after citing logical reasons,” he said, adding that in 2011, ballot papers were printed in Ghana and South Africa. “We have already forwarded the done deal between us and the company to the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning for its consideration on financial disbursement as required by law,” Korkoya told reporters. He added that the Ministry of Justice and the Attorney General will attest to the contract to complete all legally accepted processes involved in awarding contracts to companies, foreign or Liberian.
Korkoya said that a voter increase system (VIS) has already been established by the Commission and its function will be to help voters across the country to access elections information through text messages. Korkoya said that all a voter needs to do is to include his or her election’s profile, particularly the voter ID card serial number and the polling center to which he or she will be voting on October 10. “The system will send to all voters connected to this platform their voting centers,” he said, stating that the company handling this system’s contract is a Liberian company that has been in the business for a long time. Korkoya said the recruitment of the ensuing elections poll staff will not be based on friendship but instead on a competitive process that will take into consideration competence, commitment, experience and integrity.
Meanwhile, LISGIS director general, Dr. T. Edward Liberty, told yesterday’s gathering that it was unfortunate that Tipoteh is not following developments related to population statistics in the country. On the issue of the population, Dr. Liberty said NEC received national population statistics from his office at the start of the voter registration process that ended in March. “On the projection of the population for now, we have 1,140,000 zero to eight years old. They are not potential, neither eligible voters,” Dr. Liberty said. He said children who were nine years old in 2008 when the census was conducted, are now 18, and counting them now as eligible voters along with others in the age of 95 make up 3,059,817.
Dr. Liberty said the country’s population is over 4 million as of this year.