Members of the 53rd Legislature have disclosed that the lack of civic and voters education in Liberia is a huge challenge for voters in the rural parts of the country. According to them, there was a need for the National Election Commission to decentralize the civic and voters’ education to every part of the fifteen counties.
The lawmakers indicated that since the teaching of civics was suspended in Liberian schools, it has become a serious problem for citizens, including students in grade schools. Making remarks yesterday February 2, 2016, at the Bella Casa Hotel during a one-day policy dialogue organized by the Governance Commission on strengthening the electoral management system, with respect to enhancing civic and voters’ education in Monrovia, Grand Bassa County Senator Jonathan Kaipee noted that in order for the electoral management system to be strengthened, there was a need to focus on the issue of civic and voters education.
He said the essence of focusing on civic and voter’s education was to inform the electorates about the importance of the voting exercise in the country. “We as Legislators are very much concerned about the upcoming 2017 elections; this is why we want our people to have a clear understanding of this process – this is why civic and voter’s education must be taken into serious consideration by authorities of the National Election Commission or NEC,” he emphasized.
The newly elected senator, however, explained that the process that leads to the general and presidential elections was very challenging, and at such, the NEC’s independence to be compromised because of economic challenges.
“We want for the officials of the commission to up hold their independence so that we as state actors can better support this process to avoid any form of trouble,” he told participants, further emphasizing the need for officials of the commission to work in close contact with various towns in the rural parts of the counties to better carry out this civic and voter’s education for interpretation of the election process.
Also speaking, the Chairman of the House’s Committee on elections, Representatives Gabriel B. Smith of Grand Bassa County, said it is good for the people of Rural Liberia to have ideas to what they do as
a way of helping them in the decision-making, adding that if adequately informed about the election process, the people would not afford selling their votes to people seeking political offices.
“Often times you hear people talking about selling their votes; this comes in when they are not told the true essence of the election process through civic and voter’s educators at the National Elections
Commission. Passing around Monrovia with flyers and posters are not enough,” Representative Smith indicated.
By Lewis S. Teh