By E. Geedahgar Garsuah
MONROVIA: In the face of suspicion being expressed by some opposition political actors relative to the handling of the crucial Presidential and Legislative elections, scheduled for 10, October, 2023, the National Elections Commission (NEC), has categorically refuted claims that it intends to rig the October polls in favor of any political party or candidate.
NEC Chairperson, Madam Davidetta Brown Lansanah, issued stern warning to individuals who are parading with such false and unsubstantiated claims of votes-rigging to desist.
Chairperson Lansanah asks: “If you claim that the Commission will cheat and you are participating in the process, tomorrow, if you win, will you be telling the Liberian people that the Commission cheated for you to win?”
While emphasizing that there is absolutely no plan afoot to thwart the Popular Will of Liberian electorate, she maintains that the Commission is constituted by individuals with proven records of integrity and credibility.
Speaking to cross sections of Journalists, representatives of civil society organizations, and pro-democracy groups in the edifice of the James Fromoyan Conference Hall at NEC Headquarters in Sinkor on Tuesday, September 26, 2023, Madam Browne-Lansanah characterized the votes- rigging allegation as “shocking.”
She emphasized the determination and resolve of the NEC to conduct nothing less than free, fair, and transparent elections.
The NEC Boss entreated political leaders to do away with spreading unfounded allegations against the Commission which have the proclivity to unduly bring the Commission’s hard-won integrity to public ridicule.
She stressed that the spreading of unwarranted falsehoods against NEC by naysayers is dangerous for Liberia’s democracy and peace.
NEC Boss: “The same organization that will confer legitimacy on you is the same organization you are unduly denigrating and bringing to public disrepute—that we are cheaters here,” she said.
Madam Lansanah: “We don’t cheat anybody. What is in the ballot box is what we process and will announce.”
The NEC Chairperson’s clarifications and assurances come on the heels of increasing allegations of plans by some politicians to rig the October polls.
Meanwhile, the NEC has announced that a little over 10 million ballot papers for the October 10 polls, have arrived in the country and will be distributed soon to various counties.
The ballot papers, which are arriving just two weeks before the elections, are being placed into Presidential, Senatorial, and Representative categories.
Out of 10 million ballot papers, 3,320,500 have been put aside for Presidential Candidates; while 3,402,122 go for Senatorial Candidates; and 3,403,208 for Representative Candidates.
“The ballots are currently in a secured storage under the protection of state security. The deployment of ballot papers and other sensitive election materials to the 2,080 polling precincts nationwide will commence in the next few days,” Lansanah disclosed.
According to her, the electoral body is committed to ensuring that each part of the country’s 15 political sub-divisions with polling precincts receives their ballot papers on time for the smooth conduct of what she described as “free, fair, and transparent elections.”
“Assorted election materials, including ballot boxes, precinct kits, tactile ballot guides, indelible ink, and assorted stationery procured internationally have arrived in the country,” Lansanah noted.
“Packaging of materials for polling places began about two weeks ago and is ongoing. Distribution of these materials to the various county warehouses will commence in the next few days,” the NEC further disclosed.
As for the Final Registration (voter) Roll, the NEC Boss disclosed that the Commission’s employees are working very hard to print the roll, and make it readily available in time for the October 10 polls.
“NEC staffs are working day and night to ensure that materials are deployed in time for the October 10 elections, especially given the challenges with delivery of those materials to some parts of the country.
“NEC reiterates that the FRR for the 2023 Presidential and Legislative Elections will be made available to all political parties, independent candidates, and other stakeholders upon completion of the ongoing process to secure the data,” she said.
Madam Lansanah noted that to make the process more transparent, as it was done in the past, the voters’ roll will be pasted at all polling precincts across the country prior to Election Day.