Home Politics Liberian Journalist Gives BVR Booklet To NEC… Wants NEC Make Technical Demands From Experts, Others

Liberian Journalist Gives BVR Booklet To NEC… Wants NEC Make Technical Demands From Experts, Others

by News Manager

By Frank P. Martin

MONROVIA: A veteran Liberian Journalist and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Global Media Center, George M. Woodtor, has called on politicians to work closely with the National Elections Commission (NEC) for a successful conduct of the 2023 Legislative and Presidential elections in the country.

Liberians are expected to go to the poll in October of this year to elect new president or retain ex-global Soccer Legend, George Weah.

There will be other decisions to be made by electorate at the level of the Legislation as the fate of 72 Representatives and fifteen Senators hangs in limbo.

As the nation gradually transitions from the Old Optical Mark Recognition System (OMRS) to Biometric Voter Registration System (BVRS), and for the fact that the BVR exercise will be Liberia’s first experience as a nation, Journalist Woodtor disclosed that the BVR process requires all hands on desk for its overall success.

“Mainly the politicians need to see reason to lend support to the NEC during this exercise because they are the ones who may cry foul about the Final Voters’ Roll (FVR) if the results of the elections do not meet their expectations,” the Global Media Center CEO told Journalists at a news conference held over the weekend in Monrovia.

He reflected that in most African countries, with Liberia being no exception, most defeated politicians often characterized elections results as fraudulent as they conceived defeat; while others run to court for rerun immediately after results are announced.

In Liberia, Cllr. Charles W. Brumskine (late), was not the first in Liberian history to have gone to court alleging that the elections were marred by gross irregularities and fraud.

For instance, in 1985, the then opposition Grand Coalition which comprised the Liberia Unification Party (LUP), of former classroom Teacher, William Gabriel Kpolleh, Jackson Fiah Doe of the Liberia Action Party, and Edward Beyan Kesseley of the Unity Party (UP), then, went to court, alleging massive electoral irregularities in an election that the then Special Elections Commission (SECON), then, headed by Ambassador Emmett Harmon said, was “ordained by God” and in which the SECON finally declared General Samuel Kanyon Doe, a soldier who turned politician, as its winner amidst widespread protests by opposition political parties, then.

Again in 2017, Cllr. Charles Walker Brumskine said “The October 10 elections “did not pass the minimum standards required for free, fair and transparent elections.”

He contended then that said elections were characterized by gross irregularities and fraud which undermined their integrity and deprived thousands of Liberians their constitutional rights to vote.

Brumskine: “Based on our assessment of the evidence available, the results of these elections are not valid”, the renowned constitutional Lawyer further told journalists on Friday, October 13, 2017.

When Cllr. Brumskine challenged the results before the Supreme Court of Liberia, his claims were said not to be sufficient enough to overturn the results of said elections; therefore his claims were dismissed by the Supreme Court of Liberia.

With such claims and counter-claims that characterized Liberia’s past presidential and legislations, and in an effort to rise above the unfavorable pasts, Journalist Woodtor has made a presentation of booklets to the current National Elections Commission (NEC), as the crucial 2023 elections in Liberia fast approach.

He hopes that the booklets presented to the NEC will be used as resource materials as the Commission undertakes this very important task at this critical time of national electioneering.

The booklet contains at least eight (8) BVR recommendations outlined by the Journalist to help authorities of NEC to make sure technical demands, double-checked by technicians and experts of the electoral law.

This would help to ensure that the respective processes, which the system operator will perform on the citizens’ records, are in accordance with the regulations and international best practices.

He said if proper protocols are not carried out by NEC, there could be a snowballing effect, which might eventually lead to unintended postponement of the elections.

“[The] Government and electoral [Commission] may procure a system with the data locked by the vendor or administered and operated by its vendor exclusively. If the vendor leaves, the system and data become useless and/or inaccessible. If this happens, the client needs to rebuild the system from scratch for their next election. This, of course, should and can be avoided. When making a contract, make sure that the data belongs to the nation rather than the vendor,” he told the NEC.

“ Insist on proper knowledge transfer, and ensure the interoperability of the purchased system so that you can switch to another vendor for the next elections without losing continuity of your voter register,” the Media Executive emphasized.

Woodtor: “You can go even further and divide the whole operation among several different vendors: technology provider, hardware provider, and elections operator. Generally speaking, it’s a good measure to split the operations and let the specialists focus on their jobs. In these situations, it’s critical to clearly and precisely define the scope and responsibilities of each provider. Election committees often set deadlines before they define the scope properly, which can lead to the delay of the elections in a worst-case scenario. It’s important to prepare with the vendor(s), set a realistic timeline, and define the scope beforehand.”
Receiving the recommendations on behalf of NEC Chair, Madam Davidetta Brown-Lassana, NEC Deputy Executive Director for Administration, Samuel B. Cole, praised the Liberian Journalist for his farsightedness in preparing such recommendations for the Commission’s working.

“On behalf of the Commission, we want to say thanks for this laudable effort. I am happy that there are still many Liberians who are keen to make sure that our democracy is enhanced. This machine is small in terms of the size of the booklet but, in my mind, this is a very important undertaken, especially with the intention to help the process of the biometrics voters’ registration exercise,” Cole expressed.
He asked Liberians to follow suit in fostering peaceful conduct of the 2023 Elections.

Biometric Voter Registration implicates using biometric technology (capturing unique physical features of an individual – fingerprinting is the most commonly used), most of the times in addition to demographics of the voter, for polling registration and/or authentication.

The enrollment infrastructure allows collecting and maintaining a database of the biometric templates for all voters.

The overall objective of Biometric Voter Registration should be, to ensure that every eligible citizen observes the right to vote, but does so by casting only one ballot in a given voting process so, as to deter fraud.

The Liberian Government through the Commission and its partners has decided to use Biometric Voter Registration System (BVRS) to conduct this year’s Legislative and Presidential Elections—this will be the first of its kind in Liberia since the country gained its independence in 1847. This will be 176 years since the Independence of Liberia as a sovereign state from an American non-governmental organization, styled: American Colonization Society (ACS).

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