There has been a plethora of challenges and constraints for the National Elections Commission since the start of the current voter registration exercise, such as inadequate resources, unqualified VR staff, insufficient awareness, VR equipment failure, lack of security personnel at some VR centers and other problems.
One week after the start of registration, NEC announced that it had registered one million Liberians across the 15 counties, 73 electoral districts, and 2,080 registration centers. Since the day this information was released, many of us still find it difficult to believe because as it stands, there are still registration challenges and the NEC is even considering an extension of this process.
But here is the thing about these elections: thousands of our fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters, both in rural and urban communities across Liberia are very much hesitant about the entire voter registration process and are angry and disenchanted over the whole election.
On top of that, their past votes haven’t yielded any positive or tangible results, evidenced by their living conditions and current state of affairs. Some even hold the view that most of our politicians are liars and that they do not mean well for this country.
In this case, what do we do as ordinary citizens, politicians, advocates, and NEC officials?
In an effort to mitigate this problem, there are certain keys to unlocking the puzzles of these political hurdles:
- More awareness and sensitization needs to be created by political parties, civil society organizations, and faith-based institutions. That is, explaining the significance of the VR process and why we (especially hesitant voters) should vote in these elections.
- Political parties, leaders, and politicians should be sincere in their thoughts and ideas this time around. They must ensure that their campaign messages commiserate with the needs, wants, views and aspirations of the electorate.
- NEC should take into consideration the activation and dispatching of its National Monitoring and Evaluation Teams across the country. This M&E teams will put VR staff and personnel on the right path. Furthermore, NEC should reach a decision now to extend the VR process.
- Election observers must strive to report all electoral malpractices at their different VR centers on a day-to-day basis and ensure that NEC addresses those shortcomings.
- We demand an official apology from our current national leaders and politicians to our distinguished citizens who are hesitant and equally disenchanted over the current political and governmental system for the gross betrayal of their stewardship and confidence, keeping them in abject poverty, denying them the opportunities to succeed and not providing them basic social services that should have improved their lives over the last 12 years.
Towards this end, the above recommendations are tools we can use to convince our fellow compatriots to stop being hesitant. Let us not take these and other suggestions for granted in these elections, or else NEC will not reach its 2.5 million voters registered target. If these issues are not addressed, we will have the lowest turnout on Election Day in our nation’s history.
In the same vein, it is important to again encourage fellow compatriots, those of whom that have not registered and are still hesitant, to come out in numbers and register to vote. Because that is the only way we are going to have a new president, legislature or government. They must also be reminded that change is a process and not an event. The change we want to see starts now and starts with us.
Featured photo courtesy of Voter Registration Liberia, Carter Center