By Alva M. Wolokolie
With just 4 months to the end of 2013, the National Elections Commission (NEC) has released official dates with a timetable for activities leading to the conduct of the 2014 special Senatorial elections. NEC Chairman, Cllr. Jerome George Korkoya, told journalists that consistent with Article 46 of the 1986 Constitution, a special election for Senators who won in the first category during the 2005 Legislative and Presidential elections will be conducted.
The NEC has therefore reaffirmed its commitment to always conduct free and fair elections for all Liberians regardless of tribal or political background.
The special election which will be the first of its kind under the 1986 Constitution has placed staffers of the Commission in a better position to conduct the process after they have embarked upon several local and international trainings, elections observation, study tours and capacity-building measures in the sub-region and beyond.
Chairman Korkoya disclosed to newsmen that in order to proceed with such initiative, the Commission will undertake the update of its current voter’s roll. The NEC boss clarified that this voter’s roll update exercise is not a new voter registration but is intended to provide access to the electoral processes for those who may be eligible as required by the organic law of the country.
The exercise according to Chairman Korkoya covered three categories: He named Liberians who have attained the voting age of 18 and above; Liberians who returned to the country after the 2011 voters’ registration exercises and Liberians who have relocated and wish to be recaptured under a new voting precinct.
When asked by journalists as to how and when the Commission would begin the exercise, Chairman Korkoya explained that all relevant inputs to facilitate this update process are ongoing with an estimated 200 teams of trained personnel expected to serve for 45 days covering the 1,780 voting precincts across the country.
“Let me emphasize ladies and gentlemen, that the voter roll update teams will spend three days each at every voting precinct,” Chairman Korkoya said.
Commenting on the key dates for the 2014 special election, Commissioner Korkoya said in order to sustain the operational coordination of the Commission and in keeping with Section 2.9(u) of the new elections laws of 1986; the current voters’ roll update begins January 13, 2014 and ends on March 5, 2014. The special election will be conducted on the second Tuesday in October 2014. Publication of voters’ roll update regulations will be done on September 15, 2013, while accreditation of observers, party agents and media for voters’ roll update will start November 1 to December 31, 2013.
Other key electoral dates for the Senatorial elections include; exhibition (claims and objections) of provisional registration roll (voter list) on April 28- May 2, 2014. Determination of claims and objections on exhibition will be heard on April 28-May 12, 2014 with the issuance of writ of election taking place on May 9, 2014.
The NEC Chairman also named June 9-30, 2014 as accreditation of observers, party agents, and media for election while June 30, 2014 is set aside to release final voter roll update figures with candidate nomination period to immediately kick-off on July2-24, 2014.
Objections and appeals on nomination held and determined will be on July 2-August 9, 2014 with civic and voter education on election launched on July 4, 2014, followed by period for replacement of lost and damaged voter roll cards on July 7, -12, 2014.
Preliminary list of candidates published shall take place on July 27, 2014 while August 12, 2014 will be witnessed the final list of candidates published. Political campaign period will commence August 12-October 12, 2014 with candidates appearing for debate on August 15-September 30, 2014. October 14, 2014 is Election Day while announcement of final results will be released on October 29, 2014.