Electoral Violence Monitoring, Analysis and Mitigation (E-MAM)
Election Situation Room
Liberia’s Presidential and Parliamentary 10 October 2023 Elections
Opening of the polls statement
This is the second statement coming from the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) Election Situation Room (ESR) following an earlier statement we issued yesterday to introduce the ESR. To contribute to peaceful and credible general election in Liberia on October 10, 2023, WANEP in collaboration with the National Center for the Coordination of Response Mechanism (NCCRM), the Peace Building Office (PBO) is operating the ESR, with funding from the European Union and its core partners of Sweden and Austria. Our observers deployed have begun collecting and sending data to the ESR based on their checklist for the opening of polls for analysis from the polling centers they are covering.
OPENING OF POLLING STATIONS
• As at 10:00 am, the observers reported that most of the polling centers in their areas of coverage (70.71%) opened on schedule, while 29.29% did not open on time. Albeit a few places, those that did not open on schedule, opened between 8:06-8:44 am. However, as at 12:00 noon, our observers reported that polls were yet to open in Tanjuyon (J. Milton Teahjjay high school), Tokpaville (Tokpaville public school), and Jacksonville (Wuloken public school) in the southeastern Sinoe County as well as Grand Cape Mount County District #3, (Mambo public school).
• Also, in the Monrovia suburb of Caldwell, New Georgia, as at 11:35 am, balloting had not started.
• The observers reported that laid down procedures at the opening of polls were largely observed and followed by polling staff.
• At the time, polling centers opened, most political parties and independent candidates (53.21%) in the areas covered by our observers did not have poll watchers represented, while only 47% were represented.
• Turnout of voters was high as reported by the observers as well as the large presence of international and local election observers.
• NEC officials are said to have been present in high numbers at the start of the balloting, however, in four places monitored by our Observers, NEC officials were not present including at Montserrado County District #6, polling station named Help Liberia #30310 and northwestern Lofa County, district #4, polling center named Voinjama Market Hall (#21134), the observer said the Ballot Paper Issuer was not present at the center while in Montserrado District #10, St. Andrews Lutheran School, polling center #30134 and Grand Bassa County, District #3, J. D. Travers Elementary School (#9153), Verification and Identification Officers were not present at the opening of polls
• In Grand Cape Mount County, ballot boxes are reported to have arrived very late by 11:40 am, with voting starting at 11:49 am.
• There is generally a high level of organization and orderliness at various polling stations.
• Women and youths are reported to have turned out in large numbers, with persons with disabilities (PwDs) being given special consideration by NEC poll workers.
• Reports received since the opening of polls indicate that security has been generally fair save for some skirmishes. In Liberia’s western Grand Cape Mount County, there was a recorded incident in District #2 at Precinct Jene Brown, where an independent candidate was alleged to have incited supporters to disrupt the voting process. When our Eminent persons called the police in the area, they deployed their personnel and later reported that the place was under control.
• To avoid unnecessary tensions after polls close, political parties and candidates urgently need to deploy their poll watchers in places where they have not.
• NEC should continue engagement of the public through their media to assure those in places where polls did not begin on schedule that they will all cast their votes in line with the extant provisions of the electoral laws.
• Attention should be paid to the lighting in some of the voting cubicles as some places were reported to be dark and needing illumination.
• We recommend that the Joint Security remains vigilant and proactive throughout the voting process.
The ESR continues to receive real-time data from the observers. We will update you during the course of the next press statement scheduled for 7:30 pm today.
Done in Monrovia, Liberia 10 October 2023
The Election Situation Room