MONROVIA: The National Elections Commission (NEC) has finally ended phase one of the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) process which started in six counties on Monday, March 20, 2023.
The NEC in a press statement on April 7, 2023, announced to the public an extension of time and not date which adds that the process time extended from 5pm to 7pm in the last two days (Saturday and Sunday), of the BVR process.
The electoral body said, the purpose for such extension in the time was to allow those who have to register to have the opportunity to get their voter`s cards in-order to allow them participate in the upcoming elections.
“This approval of the additional hours to the Biometric Voter Registration time targets Liberians, age 18 years and above who would already be in the queue at 5pm, to be allowed to continue their registration up to 7pm on Saturday and Sunday the 8th and 9th of April 2023,” the statement disclosed.
According to the NEC, allowances will be provided for the extra hours worked on both days to all temporary field staff at the various registration centers across the six counties.
NEC said the public is informed that the Biometric Voter Registration exercise phase one; in Bomi, Gbarpolu, Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount, Margibi and Montserrado Counties, will end on Sunday, 9th April 2023 at 7pm.”
The National Elections Commission recent statement to end the Phase One of the BVR process, came few days after it has issued a statement on March 31, 2023, clarifying that phase-one of the ongoing biometric voters’ registration exercises that began on 20th March 2023 will end on 9th April 2023 and has not and will not be extended contrary to rumors being spread across the Country.
Addressing a major press conference Friday, March 31, 2023, Madam Brown-Lansanah said NEC will use the period between 9th April to 17th May 2023 for temporary staff reports on Phase one of the ongoing BVR process, while at the same time processing payment of the temporary staff.
She further noted that the electoral commission will also use the same period 9th April to 17th April to retrieve BVR materials and equipment as it gears up to commence phase two of the voters’ registration exercise in Southeastern Counties, including Rivercess, River Gee, Grand Kru and Sinoe from 17th April to 27th May 2023.
But few days after that press release; Unity Party standard bearer Joseph Nyuma Boakai on April 4, 2023, at the Farmington Declaration to reaffirm commitment to a non-violent, free, fair and transparent elections in October of this year, called on the National Elections Commission to consider extending the registration process in the first six counties.
This, Boakai said, was intended to make up for the delays and technical problems that have led to many not been able to register.
The former Vice president said, by not extending the process of the BVR, will be an act of deliberately disenfranchising Liberian citizens from participating in the elections.
Ambassador Boakai: “We also like to emphasize a transparent voter registration process as one of the key elements to having a violence free election. Several issues have been reported since the start of the ongoing Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) process.”
The former vice President said there are reports of technical problems that are causing slowness of the registration process.
He named Printers assigned to registration centers going off frequently, Registration officers coming late and leaving early, frequent shortage of cards that are used to produce voter ID cards, The length of time it takes the solar panel to generate power from the sun usually cause delay start to the registration process, as the many issues confronting the current BVR process across several registration centers in Bomi, Gbarpolu, Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount, Margibi and Montserrado Counties.
Ambassador Boakai stated that the above factors are leading to long stay in queues without registration of people who want to register and participate in the determination of the next leadership of the country.
“Some have even hinted that they are tired and may not go to registration centers again. This in our opinion is discriminating against the voters,” He maintained.
The former vice president was the only person heard calling for an extension; Monrovia city mayor and Secretary general of the ruling Coalition for Democratic Change also called on the NEC to do same, but as it stands, the National Elections Commission has remained adamant in considering the many calls for an extension of the process thereby; announcing the close of the Phase one of the BVR process in the first six (6) Counties.