During the signing of a US$2.7 million contribution agreement last week at the headquarters of the National Elections Commission to support the impending 2017 presidential and representative elections, the Swedish Ambassador to Liberia Lena Nordström called for a very transparent electioneering process in the country that everyone would accept and at the same time win the confidence of the Liberian people.
Ambassador Nordström specifically called on the Commission to prioritize eligible youth and women voters during the civic engagement exercise to enable them adequately prepared to form part of the country’s decision-making process.
“The more informed these people are the better decision they will make next year”, she emphasized. We join our voice with the Swedish envoy and all other partners committed to ensuring that Liberia transitions smoothly in reminding authorities of the NEC that early preparation is key to conducting problem-free, fair and transparent elections.
Early preparation should encompass that voters should be educated and sensitized about all aspects of the electoral process, particularly how they should go about on the day of polling to cast their ballots.
We believe this is very important because what happens on the day of elections (October 10, 2017) will go a long way in determining how voters’ choices expressed and their expectations as to who should ascend to leadership are achieved.
We call on the NEC to work overtime in the coming elections, particularly during the civic and voters’ education exercise in order to reduce the number of spoiled ballots after the poll. Spoiled ballots are a silent killer of voters’ dream. Experiences from the two past elections in our country relative to spoiled ballots leave much to be desired seriously.
It is our sincere prayer and hope that the NEC would learn from the recent Ghanaian elections where the electoral commission recorded over 10 million qualified ballots from the poll with few thousand spoiled ballot papers, which indicates that the Ghana Electoral Commission did an excellent job in terms of civic and voters’ education.
Astronomical spoiled ballots seriously limit the overwhelming support that candidates should enjoy from the electorates as reflected in the outcome of the polls. Too much spoiled ballots as we had experienced in Liberia affect or reduces the percentage of total votes a candidate should have and raises serious question of popular support from the citizenry.
We believe that critical issue of spoiled ballots running neck-to-neck with the qualified ones could be curtailed if adequate resources and early preparation are directed to civic and voters’ education, ahead of the 2017elections. The NEC shall have achieved 50 percent of its work if voters are properly educated and sensitized on what to do when they enter the polling booth and are handed a ballot paper. This is where the dividend of all the resources provided by partners and national government to conduct elections are translated into meaningful results: mass participation, overwhelming outcome, smooth transition, peace and economic development, among others.