Liberians went to the polls for the run-off election to determine the next president on 26 December. By all accounts, it was a peaceful day, however the voter turnout was low.
According to the National Election Commission Chairman, despite an “extremely small number of incidents,” the overall process was successful. By the time the polls closed, the NEC Chairman said reports from the polling stations were positive.
“So far the election process and voting in the presidential run-off election has been smooth and there are marked improvements on the 10 October 2017 election day,” said Cllr. Jerome G. Korkoya, NEC Chairman. “The systems the National Elections Commission has put in place are working.”
NEC has overseen this latest election with an ever-increasing set of capacities as a result of assistance from the United Nations Development Programme. Under the Support to the 2015-2018 Liberia Electoral Cycle project and other partner organizations, which assist in developing the capacity of the Commission, NEC was able to deliver transparent and credible elections.
In addition to building capacity of the NEC, the project has provided technical support for legal assistance, operations, procedures, voter’s registration, and results management. Another element of UNDP support is its focus on gender mainstreaming strategy and the promotion of women’s participation in the electoral process.
As part of the elections team across the country, there was a 50/50 policy on women and men working at the polls. Women also played a great role in the security forces. Grace, from the Drug Enforcement Agency joined two other female officers from the Fire Department and the Police Force to monitor one polling station in Monrovia’s Sinkor district.
“It’s our job to keep an eye out for any disturbances. If people are disgruntled or some people make trouble, we’re here to stop it,” she said.
With support from the Japan Government, there were approximately 6,000 security personnel deployed in all 2,080 voting precincts and NEC warehouses scattered across the country that held the ballots prior to the election. Those ballots included a tactile ballot sleeves, also supported by UNDP, for Liberia’s visually-impaired voters.
When the polls closed at 6pm, counting began. With torchlights in powerless rooms, the election officials began the process of verifying and counting under the watchful eye of party witnesses and in some cases international observers who included the former presidents of Ghana, Kosovo and Nigeria.
The Elections Coordinating Committee, Liberia’s election watchdog, said that observers noted improvements from the last round of elections in a midday statement.
“The ECC observers’ reports show that the queues are better managed in comparison to the poor management of queues observed in the first round. Queue controllers are more visible and providing assistance to the voters.”
UNDP will continue its assistance to the NEC through to 2019 under the Supporting Liberian Elections Project, funded by UNDP, Canada, European Union, IrishAid, and Sweden.