Of Liberia’s 4.5 million citizens, the National Elections Commission says it expects to register 2.5 million as eligible voters.
“This figure is based on the Liberia Statistics and Geo-information Services’ (LISGIS) population projections; and to achieve this target, the Commission has trained and deployed 438 civic educators and 219 gender-mobilizers across the country,” NEC Chairman Cllr. Jerome G. Korkoyah said.
Serving as the ‘launcher’ of the civic education and voter registration, Cllr. Korkoyah said NEC will disseminate civic education messages based on a standardized toolkit developed by the Commission. He said as the Commission prepares to undertake this monumental task, it is appreciative of Government’s support and the partnership of the international community through UNDP, the European Union, USAID, friendly governments as well as every organization closely engaged in enhancing the tenets of democracy globally.
“Voter registration is not just the technical implementation of an activity but it is a holistic political, administrative, and practical process,” Cllr. Korkoyah said. “This is why the role of voter registration is especially important when it comes to emerging democracies.”
He said the quality of the process and the product, which is the voter’s roll, can determine the outcome of an election and consequently the stability of the democratic institutions in a country.
Cllr. Korkoyah also stated that trust in democracy is promoted when the voter registration process is open and transparent and allows for the participation of all electoral stakeholders, mainly political parties, CSOs, the media, security forces, the international community and all potential voters.
“Moreover, when the outcome of an election is readily accepted by both the winners and the losers, then the implication is that the major instrument upon which the election was conducted is fair, reliable, and credible. And that instrument is obviously the voter registration,” Cllr. Korkoyah said.
“As we launch the voter education awareness for the 2017 voter registration exercise, let every citizen charge him or herself with the difficult responsibility to encourage others to participate in order to hit the bar of 2.5 million registrants.”
Speaking on behalf of the Coalition of Political Parties Women in Liberia, Madam Lou A.D. Clark of Liberty Party said as the voter registration process is key to any election, everyone should take it as a personal responsibility to not only learn and conceal but share with others the importance of becoming part of the process.
Madam Clark meanwhile called on NEC to closely work with all political parties in order to ensure that women’s participation – not only as voters, but as aspirants – reaches the 30 percent benchmark they are seeking in the country.
“Our call is for us to realize the fulfillment of what our Constitution says: equal opportunity for all,” she said.
For his part, Rep. Gabriel Buchanan Smith said the National Legislature and the House of Representatives’ Committee on Elections will continue to work with NEC in all its activities leading to 2017 representative and presidential elections.
Rep. Smith meanwhile said the ‘Threshold Bill’ calling for the increment of electoral seats for women by constituency demarcation cannot be passed into law now on grounds that the national census, having been conducted in 2008, will only be done again in 2018, at which time elections would have long been be over.
‘’We all have followed the recent elections in Ghana, The Gambia as well as the United States in which incumbency was not the matter but the will of the people in each of those countries,’’ Smith pointed out.
The ceremonies during the launch included a parade along the main street from Sinkor to the Monrovia City Hall, featuring cultural and drama performances, songs and speeches in the NEC’s James Fromoyan Conference Hall by representatives of Community Based Organizations, Civil Society Organizations, Coalition of Political Parties Women, Faith Based Organizations, among others.