On February 8, 2017, a week after the voter registration process started, the National Election Commission (NEC) declares to have registered one million Liberians across 15 counties, 73 electoral districts, and 2,080 registration centers (New Dawn Online, 2017).
This claim comes amid a plethora of challenges and limitations the Commission is facing, including, for example, insufficient resources, unqualified VR staff, unsatisfactory awareness and sensitization campaigns, equipment malfunctions and lack of security personnel at some VR centers.
From the day the Commission released the registration information, many Liberians found it difficult to trust and accept. Moreover, the Commission is considering an extension of the VR 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 who are eligible voters, are hesitant about this whole voter registration process and are angry and disenchanted over the entire election. By that, I mean, their vote has not produced any positive change in their living conditions. Some even hold the view that most of our politicians are liars and that they all do not mean well for this country.
In this case, what do we do as ordinary citizens, politicians, advocates, NEC officials, etc.? That is the question that we must ask ourselves now and come up with a solution that will mitigate this situation.
To mitigate this problem, the below recommendations are the keys to unlocking the puzzles of these challenges:
- More awareness and sensitization needs to be done by political parties, civil society organizations, and faith-based institutions, among others; explaining the significance of the VR process and why we (most especially hesitant voters) should vote in these elections.
- Political parties, Leaders, Stewarts, and Politicians should be sincere in their thoughts and ideas this time around. They must ensure that their campaign message (s) commiserates with the needs, wants, views and aspirations of the electorates.
- The NEC should take into consideration the activation and dispatcher of her National Monitoring & Evaluation Teams across the country. This M & E process will put VR staff and personnel on the right path against the odds of error making. Furthermore, the NEC should reach a decision now to extend the VR process.
- Election Observers must strive to report all electoral malpractices being exhibited at their different VR centers on a day-to-day or weekly basis, via the various media outlets. And ensure that the NEC addresses those concerns.
- 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. We require an additional apology for the gross betrayal by leaders of their stewardship and confidence, keeping our people in abject poverty, denying them the opportunity to succeed and not providing them basic social services, over the past 12 years, that could have improved their lives.
To this end, the supra recommendations are tools we can use to convince our fellow compatriots to stop being hesitant. Let us not take these and many other suggestions for granted in these elections. Otherwise, the NEC will not reach her projected 2.5M voter registration target. If these issues are not addressed, we will have the lowest turnout on Elections Day in our nation’s history.
In the same vein, it is important to encourage again our fellow compatriots, those of whom that have not registered and still yet hesitant, to come out in their numbers and register to vote. Because that is the only way we are going to have a new President, Legislature or a Government. Also be (hesitant voters) reminded that change is a process and not an event and it does not take place overnight. The change we want to see starts now and begins with us.
With this, I rest my case for now……………