MONROVIA, Montserrado – The National Elections Commission has announced an extension of the voter registration process taking place across the country by an additional one week.
The voter registration exercise began on February 1 and was scheduled to have ended by March 7, according to the NEC’s calendar.
NEC’s Chairman Jerome Korkoya said the decision to extend the exercise was reached by members of the commission’s Board of Commissioners to compensate for the time lost during the disruption caused by faulty cameras.
Following the kick-off, there were several reports of irregularities that threatened to demean the characterization of the registration process. Reports highlighted complaints of delays due to late arrival of materials, malfunctioning of cameras, and inefficiency of NEC staff.
Korkoya defended the extension of the registration, calling it a fair decision in the interest of transparency.
“Rather than closing on the seventh, we will now be ending on the 14th,” he said. “We hope that Liberians will take advantage of the one-week extension to register.”
Already, several registration centers across the country including in Montserrado, Bong, and Margibi, have closed down after reaching the 3,000 registrants threshold.
Korkoya said the early closure of centers in some of those areas that have reached a targeted threshold, is a positive development that indicates citizens’ willingness to participate in the process.
However, he said with the extension of the process, NEC has also re-opened all centers and increased the threshold for the number of registrants per centers by 1,500.
“We experienced – especially in the Margibi areas around the Marshall belt – that most of the centers are closed and taking into consideration the distance, citizens are complaining that the active centers are far away and they can’t get registered,” he said.
“We got sufficient extra papers that we ordered. So materials are not our problem right now.”
Commenting on current progressive preliminary statistics, he said NEC had received 1.1 million forms returning from the field, indicating the number of people who have registered. Of that number, he said women constituted 47 percent.
“This number excludes intakes that are still in the field,” he, however, stressed. “You know most of the places are far away, so the field workers are not able to bring them to Monrovia before the close of the period, so we still have a lot there.”
He hopes that with the extension period, NEC will get close to achieving its target of at least 2.5 million registered voters.
According to NEC boss, the extension in the exercise would cost the commission an additional US$1 million.
Featured photo courtesy of Together Liberia