The 1,798,930 million registered voters in the Republic of Liberia are voting today to exercise their franchise in the second post war Presidential and Legislative elections.
Early reports from various polling places across the country indicate smooth polling with the poll opening in most polling places at 8:00 a.m. Due to challenging weather condition occasioned by the mid October rains, few polling places experienced minimum delay in opening. There were reports of down pour of rain in parts of Montserrado County and in other parts of the country while the weather was generally fair in most places.
Representatives of the various political parties and independent candidates were present in most of the polling areas. International and Local organizations are in the country to observe the process including the African Union, the European Union, ECOWAS, Citizen Union, OSIWA, the American Embassy, the French Embassy, the German Embassy, the Swedish Embassy and the Spanish Embassy. Other international organizations observing these elections are the National Democratic Institute, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, Search for Common Ground, Dynamique Des Afriques among others.
There is also an avalanche of local observer groups performing similar duties as well as journalists representing myriad of international and local media outlets who are covering the elections across the country.
Officers from the Liberia National Police, the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization, Liberia National Security, National Fire Service and the Drug Enforcement Agency are deployed at the various voting precincts across the country. The voting process has so far proceeded without any untoward disposition. Overall, the process has been peaceful.
By mid-day today, voters were seen in long queues waiting for their turns to vote. At some polling places, voters braved the rain to exercise their franchise while others are said to have walked for hours just to cast their votes. The NEC hopes that all of the eligible voters will participate in these elections void of mishaps.
The National Elections Commission wishes to note that the turn out during the morning hours was quite impressive as has been reported in both local and international media and there are signs that the trend will be the same till the polling places are closed at 6:00 p.m.
Concerns from some stakeholders over recent admission about the printing of excess ballot papers have claimed the attention of the Commission.
The NEC wishes to clarify that according to international best practices, each polling place is supplied with equal number of ballot papers on elections day. In addition, extra 5% of the contingency ballot papers are procured to avoid shortage of ballots during the packing and delivery to the polling places. The contingency ballot paper procurement is the internationally accepted standard practice for any election. However, the additional printed ballot papers are not supposed to exceed the required 5% mark.
Furthermore, each polling place is issued with 550 ballot papers (for each election) which include contingency ballot papers per polling places can be supplied with ballot papers from closely located polling places. However, this process must be recorded as per procedures and observers and agents present at every polling place. This is done due to the transparency purposes to ensure that contingency ballot papers are accounted for at each polling place.
The NEC again wishes to encourage citizens of Liberia to make good use of these elections to vote for the candidates of their choice in the three categories in these elections”.
As the Commission stated previously, in any voting process, every single vote counts. Your one vote could determine which candidate will be elected in the three categories.
NEC encourages the registered voters that there is still time and those who will be in the line at the closing time will be given the chance to cast their votes. When the polls close at 6:00 p.m., counting of the ballots will follow immediately.
At the same time, the Commission hopes to hold a Press Conference by 9:00 p.m. tonight at the its conference room on 9th Street Sinkor.