The National Elections Commission announces in Monrovia that its US$17 million budget for the 2020 special senatorial elections and the National Referendum has by reduced by US$4million, setting the new operational budget for the polls at US$13 million.
Addressing the Senate’s committee on elections headed by Bong County Senator Dr. Henrique Tokpah, the chairperson of the NEC said due to high economic constraints and reduction in some of the activities leading to the elections, the commission sliced the electoral budget from US$17 million to US$13 million with high anticipation of conducting the polls smoothly.
Chairperson Davidetta Browne Lansanah said of the amount, the government through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning had made available US$3 million.
She disclosed that the US$3 million has been used to purchase materials from international vendors, something, she said, has been a worry of the commission.
She said in order for the commission to operate within the adjusted budget, the NEC board of commissioners has designed strategies by making the voter card replacement exercise one, meaning the registration team will spent three days in each of the 2080 precincts throughout the country.
Chairperson Lansanah explained that the amount will be used to facilitate and enhance the process of updating the voter’s roll to ensure inclusion of people who have attained the age of 18 years in keeping with the Constitution of Liberia.
The team is expected to register first time voters or Liberians who turned 18 years after the registration exercise of the 2017 Presidential and Representatives election will be given the opportunity to register and fully participate in the voting process of the country for the very first time.
“The Commission will also ensure the inclusion on the voter roll, individuals who have changed their locations since the 2011 voter registration exercise as well as Liberians who were not able to register during the 2011 Voter Registration Process due to the fact that they were not in the country at the time,” she said.
According to her, the most of essential materials for the smooth conduct of the 2020 special Senatorial elections are already in process and the remaining ones will be gathered in-country.
Madam Lansanah assured the Liberian Senate that the electoral process is poised to be free, fair and transparent and that all international standards will be observed and practiced.
During the 2014 special senatorial election, former NEC Chairman Cllr. Jerome George Korkoya, presented a budget for US$15.3m, noting that if the NEC were to conduct a new voter registration exercise for eligible voters, a staggering combined cost of US$21m was needed.
Liberians are preparing to go to the poll in December to elect 15 of the 30-member Senate at the Capitol.
By E. J. Nathaniel Daygbor–Editing by Jonathan Browne