Election Observers in Liberia Should Learn from the Kenyan Mistakes


By Lucien Nyan Gortor

Tomorrow Liberians will go to the poll to decide who becomes their new president, legislatures, and senators. This election is very crucial. It will be the first time since 1944 that one democratically elected government will hand over power to another elected government. It will see Africa’s first female president stepping down, consistent with the two term limit within the constitution.

There is a lot at stake in this election. The country has the bitter history of a 14 years crisis prior to the election of Madam Johnson Sirleaf “Liberia’s Iron Lady”.  The country is among the poorest countries in the world. Reliable electricity and running water is available to not more than 15% of the population. Even with these challenges, most Liberians consider peace the most important thing in this election.

In order to ensure a peaceful election, there is the need for credible, free, fair and transparent election processes. We must strive to give equal voice to every eligible voter, market women have as much to say as any wealthy man, and the illiterate unskilled laborers have a voice that speak as persuasively as a university lecturer.

We recently learnt from the Kenyan election that for elections to be truly credible, and not just free, fair and transparent, all aspects and processes of the election including the electronic and technology processes must be trustworthy.  The Kenyan election was declared “null and void” by the Kenyan Supreme Court due to electronic and technological malpractices.

Prior to the Supreme Court declaration, the international observer missions monitoring the elections had already certified the election as largely free, fair and peaceful.  About 400 international observers were deployed to watch the Kenyan poll.

In my opinion, the international observers official statement prior to the Supreme Court declaration was sincere and a true reflection of their observation. The reason international observers failed to detect any irregularity in the Kenyan election was because they limited their election monitoring process largely to just poll watching.   The extent to which they watched the electronic transmission and processing of results is not readily available.   The lesson for the Liberian election observers and other stakeholders is to monitor and ensure that the transmission of results from regional offices to the Central Tally Center and the processing of result by computer application software are not influenced by any computer malpractice.

The Liberian election processes are not as automated as the Kenyan biometric voting system, but does include electronic and technological components.  These should be carefully watched by the election observers in Liberia.

It is a good coincident the former Ghanaian president John Mahama who was a key member of the Kenyan Election 2017 Observer Mission is also leading the ECOWAS delegation monitoring the Liberian October 2017 Election,

The author, Lucien Nyan Gortor, is an ICT4D Specialist, with extensive experience in ICT and related fields. He can be contacted on 0776255118 or [email protected]


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