2020 Special Senatorial Elections and Referendum
This mid-day update is based on reports that the Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) has received from 476 out of the 498 Rapid Response Observers deployed to polling places proportionally nationwide as of 1:00PM on December 8, 2020.
The ECC has deployed 927 trained and accredited observers including 95 mobile observers and 832 polling place observers deployed in all 73 electoral districts. Of the 927 observers, 832 are systematically deployed as Rapid Response Observers, 498 of which are deployed based on a proportional distribution by district. This means that the proportion of polling stations observed by Rapid Response Observers in each district and county closely matches the overall percentage of polling stations in each district and county. For example, 9% of polling places where Rapid Response observers deployed are in Bong County and 9% of overall polling places are in Bong County. This proportional deployment enables the ECC to comment on the process nationally, drawing on data points from every district of the country. Appendix A provides a detailed breakdown of the distribution of observed polling stations by county.
This report focuses on the set-up and opening of polling places. Percentages reported reflect percentages of polling places observed and are not statistically representative of the country as a whole, but do provide credible data on emerging national trends. At this time the ECC has received 96% of reports from its 498 Rapid Response Observers. The majority of the missing reports come from areas experiencing poor network coverage in certain areas, including Grand Kru, Grand Gedeh 02 and some areas in Bomi 02. Therefore, the following findings do not reflect what has occurred in these areas. We will expect these reports to come in by the end of the day.
Arrival at Polling Places
- By 7:00am, 97% of all ECC Observers were at their assigned polling places. In 99% of polling places where ECC Observers are located, National Election
- Commission (NEC) staff respected the ECC Observer’s status as an accredited observers and permitted the observer to observe at the polling place.
Polling Place Set-Up
- ECC observers reported that 83% of polling places had all five NEC staff present during set-up, with at least two NEC staff being women.
- Observers reported that all sensitive materials (including the ballots, ballot stamp, indelible ink, the Final Registration Roll (FRR), and the Record of the Count Forms) were available at 99% of polling places at the time of opening.
- In 99% of polling places where the ECC observed, the NEC presiding officer showed that the ballot boxes were empty and in all of polling places the presiding officer sealed each of the ballot boxes with four seals.
- In 51% of polling places the ECC observed, observers noted that they had to climb stairs to reach the polling place. Stairs make the polling place inaccessible to persons with disabilities or the elderly.
- In 93% of polling places where ECC observers are located, observers saw security personnel in the area.
- In 88% of polling places observed, ECC observers reported that safety materials such as hand wash bucket and sanitizers were present.
- ECC observers reported that voting generally commenced on time in most of the observed polling places. By 7:30 am 19% of polling places were reported to be open and an additional 58% of polling places open between 7:46 am-8:15 am. Only 1% of polling places was reported to open after 10:00 am.
Generally, ECC observer reports indicate that the opening process has been peaceful, orderly, and proceeding smoothly across the country. However, ECC observers have also reported isolated issues of concern at certain polling places.
The ECC National Information Center is also collecting critical incident reports from all 927 observers. ECC continues to collect and process these reports. Thus far, critical incident reports have included few of the observers not permitted to observe due to wrong names printed on accreditation tags by the NEC, isolated tension at polling places where voter attempted to vote using the 2011 voter card but was denied by NEC officials and voters not adhering to social distancing.
Despite these isolated cases of incidents, the ECC wishes to flag the below critical incidents of note:
- At polling precinct 30280 polling place #3 at the Messiah School System in Montserrado district #3, a voter who was initially issued two ballots (senatorial and referendum) later attempted to drop an extra senatorial ballot plus the referendum in the ballot box. When asked where he got the extra senatorial ballot, he accused the ballot paper issuer of giving it to him. However, he was later turned over to the police for further investigation.
- At precinct 30057 at polling place #1 in Montserrado district #13, a voter attempted to snap his marked ballot and NEC officials intervened and discarded his ballot paper which caused tension at the polling place for at least 5 minutes. The tension was later quilled down and voting resumed.
- At Precinct 30484, place 06 in Montserrado district #5, Observer confirmed that ballot paper issuer issued 8 referendum ballots to voters that had 4 of the 8 prepositions missing before realizing the error. When the observer was contacted about the name of the polling place, he confirmed that the venue was an unfinished building.
The ECC continues to monitor the process and will have more comprehensive information in future updates.
- The ECC call on the NEC and Joint Security particularly the Liberia National Police to investigate where voters got these extra ballots from and take appropriate mitigation measures;
- The ECC commends the National Elections Commission (NEC), for the timely opening of voting precinct, availability of voting materials as well as safety materials (hand washing stations) at voting
Across polling centers, voters complained of not having adequate information on how to mark the referendum ballots and what the symbols means;
The ECC also observed the non-adherence of social distancing at polling places/precincts and we therefore call on the NEC and Security officials to enforce the social distancing measures.
About the ECC and Observation of the 2020 Special Senatorial Elections and Referendum
The Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) is a civil society platform, comprising 30 organizations that observes all aspects of electoral processes in Liberia, including this 2020 Special Senatorial Elections and Referendum. The ECC has a six member steering committee with representatives from Center for Democratic Governance (CDG); Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP); Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD); National Youth Movement for Transparent Elections – Partners for Democratic Development (NAYMOTE-PADD); West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP) and the Women’s NGO Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL). CDG serves as the chair of ECC.
The ECC’s observation effort takes advantage of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to receive near real-time reports from its observers. The ECC has established a National Information Centre (NIC) in Monrovia to which ECC observers submit reports using coded text messages from their mobile phones. Reports are directly transmitted into a sophisticated database and processed. ECC remains the largest civil society platform that observes elections in Liberia. It works in partnership with the National Democratic Institute with support from the USAID.
Appendix A: Distribution of observed polling stations by county.
|Distribution of Polling Places||Deployment of ECC Rapid Observers|
|County||Polling Places||% of Polling Places||Polling Places||% of Polling Places|
|Grand Cape Mount||171||3.17%||16||3.21%|
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