The National Elections Commission says it is concerned about reports of “trucking” of citizens by some aspirants, which it notes is prohibited under Chapter 10.1(a) of the New Elections Law and punishable by a fine or imprisonment of up to six months.
Addressing a press conference Tuesday at the Commission headquarters in Sinkor, Monrovia, Chairperson Madam Davidetta Browne Lansanah said while the NEC is not clothed with authority to impose criminal penalty, the Commission frowns on the trucking of citizens for political purpose, and calls on all involved in this practice to desist.
“A person who is trucked to another area is in violation of Chapter 3 of the Elections Law which states that a person must register to vote in the area where he or she ordinarily resides. Upon finding, consistent with due process of law, that a person was trucked in this regard, his or her name will be removed from the registration roll; similar actions will also be taken against persons who registered more than once”, Madam Lansanah warns.
At the same time she discloses that consistent with its commitment to ensuring the participation of all eligible Liberians in the December 8th midterm senatorial election, the Commission has drawn up appropriate strategies to provide civic and voter education as well as gender mobilization for the Voter’s Roll Update, currently ongoing.
The Commission has recruited and deployed 146 civic educators and 146 gender mobilizers in all 73 electoral districts to carry out community outreach, including door-to-door and face-to-face voter education and gender-sensitive awareness campaign for the VRU process.
Chairperson DavidettaLansanah says to facilitate an effective and robust CVE campaign, several educational and awareness materials have been produced for distribution nation-wide, including posters, flyers, t-shirts, caps, and banners.
The NEC boss adds that the Commission has produced jingles and dramas in simple Liberian English that are being aired on community radio stations across the country as well as accredited and certificated 300 civil society, community based and faith based organizations to assist with the CVE and gender awareness exercise.
She details that nomination of candidates for the December 8, 2020 Special Senatorial Elections began since September 1, 2020 as scheduled and the exercise will end on September 21, 2020 at 5:00 PM.
NEC reveals that as of September 14, 2020, 44 independent aspirants and 12 political parties, alliances or coalitions had picked up application packages, including 10 independent female aspirants and 34 male aspirants, while three political party aspirants and 10 independent aspirants have returned their completed forms for processing.
Chairperson Lansanah says the NEC on Thursday, September 10, 2020 received a communication from the House of Representatives, notifying the Commission of the existence of two vacancies occasioned by the death of the late Representatives Jay NagbeSloh of District #2, Sinoe County, and Munah Pelham Youngblood of District #9, Montserrado County, respectively.
She explains that pursuant to Article 37 of the Constitution of Liberia, which requires the NEC to conduct by-election within 90 days of notification, the two pending by-elections will be held on December 8, 2020, along with the midterm senatorial election and Referendum, adding the Commission will shortly release information to the Candidate nomination period for the by-elections.
Liberians are gearing up for these elections at the time the COVID-19 pandemic is still in the country. The NEC says it is collaborating with health authorities to ensure protection for its staff and the public.
“Accordingly, citizens are advised to observe all COVID-19 prevention protocols, including the washing of hands, wearing of masks and social distancing in the queues as they go to the VRU Centers.”
The Commission announces that it has accredited 1,747 observers for the VRU exercise, which includes seven international organizations and 15 national organizations besides 58 media observers.
The NEC also warns that acts of violence are unacceptable, calling on Liberians involved in such outrageous conducts to desist forthwith. The NEC notes that Chapter 10 of the NEW Elections Law provides for criminal penalties for acts of electoral violence.