Citizen Trust Is a Crucial Currency in Liberia’s Electoral Processes

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Number of Long-Term
Observer Deployed:
6 Persons (3 females)

Number of BVR Centers Visited: 107
Number of Countries Visited: 5 Counties
Number of Electoral Districts Visited: 7
Number of Meetings with NEC: 6
Number of Meetings with police: 6
Number of meetings with political parties: 4
Number of meetings with Citizen observers: 3

From 28 April – 8 May 2023, EISA’s LTOs have visited 107 voter registration centers in 5 counties (Nimba, Bong, Grand Gedeh, Lofa and River Cess). This brief shines the spotlight on observations made in Nimba and Bong. Across the country citizens showed strong ownership of the election and that elections are a worthwhile democratic process that should be protected at all costs.

Long-term observers covered both the urban and rural parts of Liberia which is essential in understanding the experience of voter registrants. Through observations made thus far, voter registration centers in rural areas are more vulnerable in comparison to centers in urban areas. The lack of adequate infrastructure and resources presents serious security risks. Many voter
registration centers are in open halls without visible policing, security officials were not present as they are assigned to more than one station within districts. Observers reported that they did not see security officials in 53% of voter registration centers visited.

NEC temporary staff spoke highly of the responsiveness of security personnel to calls for backup where necessary. The recruitment of NEC temporary Staff without contracts is an ongoing practice observed from phase 1 of BVR proceedings. In 17 of the stations visited, NEC temporary staff had not seen or signed their contracts and were all working based on trust that the NEC would pay them for work done after the conclusion of the phase 2. 51 of the NEC temporary staff had received a stipend of 6,000 Liberian dollars. When we asked a NEC temporary staff why they were working without knowing how much they would be paid, they said:

I am working based on the hope that I will receive my contract and get paid anytime from now.

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At Johnny Voker Public School, Saclepea Town, District-8, Nimba County a young female (Victoria Paye) NEC temporary staff used her own money and took a Keke (commercial motorbike) to Karnwee to collect the ‘ribbon’ that would enable the resumption of printing the voters’ cards. When asked why she used her own resources she responded:

‘I am doing it for my people.’

There are many more real stories of resilience and trust from our encounters with Liberians in the field, demonstrating that trust will continue to play a role in safeguarding the electoral process.

At Karnwee Town, District-8, Nimba County, the town chief welcomed our observers to the center, he has been with the NEC temporary staff since 21 May 2023 and plays a crucial role as a link between residents and NEC temporary staff, ensuring that operational information about issues such as the collection of voters cards after depletion of the ribbon. These examples surpass all technical operations and highlight the crucial role that citizens will continue to play as potential voters, election officials, peace monitors and observers.

EISA will publish a final report of the voter registration exercise at the end of phase II. We commend Liberian 
citizens for their commitment to ensuring a largely peaceful pre-election environment thus far. EISA encourages the NEC and other supporting stakeholders to strive towards improving the citizen experience of the elections in all the counties of Liberia in line with the trust bestowed upon them. 

Snapshot for BVR Centers

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About EISA: The Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA) is a continental not-for-profit organization located in Johannesburg, South Africa, and Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire with field offices in the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Madagascar, Niger, Liberia Chad, and Sudan. EISA has continental and sub-regional programs in the field of elections and democracy throughout Africa. EISA strives for excellence in the promotion of credible elections, citizen participation, and the strengthening of political institutions for sustainable democracy in Africa.

About USAID Support to EISA-IEOM to Liberia: The USAID-funded EISA International Election Observation Mission (EISA-IEOM) Activity seeks to enhance the integrity of the 2023 Liberia Presidential and Legislative elections through the deployment of an independent international election observer mission (EOM) to monitor, assess and report on all phases of the electoral process in accordance with international and regional benchmarks. The IEOM is implemented in close coordination with and the financial support of USAID/Liberia and will complement the efforts of other electoral stakeholders. EISA-IEOM has deployed international LTOs across Liberia to observe BVR Phase 2 of the registration and will compile a Phase 2 and comprehensive BVR report at the conclusion of the inspection process.