By Morrison O.G. Sayon
Activities for the conduct of the 2017 Presidential and Legislative Elections have begun with the launch of the Civic and Voter Education Toolkit in the country.
The National Elections Commission (NEC) yesterday launched the CVE Toolkit as part of preparation for the conduct of a possible National Referendum in 2016 and the Presidential and General Elections. The NEC in collaboration with stakeholders including national and international partners has for the first time in Liberia’s post-conflict democracy drive, produced a Civic and Voter Education (CVE) Toolkit.
The production of the toolkit is part of the commission’s integrated CVE program. The CVE Toolkit is a comprehensive package of information and items that provide a standard for the effective dissemination of electoral messages with the aim of ensuring equitable and increased participation in elections in Liberia.
According to the National Elections Commission’s Chairman, Jerome G. Korkoya, the development of the instrument came at a time when the Commission is preparing for the conduct of a possible referendum in 2016 and a highly anticipated Legislative and Presidential Elections in 2017.
Chairman Korkoya disclosed that the development of the CVE Toolkit was predicated upon an in-depth study commissioned by the NEC in 2014, which revealed that one way of improving the electoral process and encouraging increased participation is through an enhanced and sustainable CVE. “It is a known fact that CVE remains cumbersome in a developing country like Liberia, where there is an entrenched voters’ apathy deepened by the high rate of illiteracy, disillusioned with politics and limited understanding of the electoral system,” Korkoya pointed out.
He added that this effort is in keeping with the constitutional mandate of the NEC to conduct free, fair, credible and frequent elections. He reaffirmed NEC’s commitment and determination to improve on the management of elections by endeavoring to apply all of the best practices that will further deepen the understanding of voters and candidates in order to encourage greater participation in all aspects of the electoral process.
The NEC boss disclosed that the CVE Toolkit has been portioned into six parts called ‘chapters.’ The first chapter according to him explains the rationale for the toolkit. The second chapter outlines strategies for the design and the use of CVE messages through various channels such as seminar, symposium, workshop, consultation, town hall meeting, among others. Among other things, he said the Toolkit also underscores the roles of stakeholders, institutions and organizations involved in the dissemination of CVE messages.
Chapter three highlights various strategies for directly engaging the public through outreach activities while Chapter four discusses different strategies for mainstreaming gender in elections and enhancing equitable participation. Chapter five highlights strategies for the use of media in CVE with emphasis on the print, electronic and social media while Chapter Six basically discusses the strategy for the production and use of print materials inCVE.
In brief remarks, IFES’s Program Manager, Senesee Freeman, frowned on the absence of political parties from such gatherings. Mr. Freeman said one of the crucial elements in the conduct of elections is the absence of political parties which are the direct beneficiaries in the process.
He called on political parties to get involved in the process as they are the major stakeholders in any electoral process. Freeman reaffirmed IFES unflinching support in the process and assured NEC of its continuous engagements with the commission and other stakeholders.
For his part, a representative of Political Parties at the ceremony took serious exception to the absence of parties during the launchof the CVE Toolkit. Mr. Fredrick Gobewole, National Chairman of the Grassroot Democratic Party of Liberia (GDPL) expressed disappointment in the absence of political parties at the launch of the CVE Toolkit.
He said political parties are the ones seeking to take over state power and as such, they must be involved in the electoral process. He said the absence of political parties will hinder the works of the National Elections Commission.
In a related development, the National Elections Commission (NEC) has set Tuesday, September 29, 2015 as the date for the Re-run of the Special Senatorial Election in parts of Bong County.
The areas comprise two precincts and one polling center and include Sanoyea Market, Polling Place Number 5, Yarbayeh Public School Precinct and BeletendaPalava Hut Precinct, all of which are in Electoral District Number 7.
The date for the re-run of the election was announced on Monday at a ceremony held at the headquarters of the Commission in Monrovia.
During the ceremony, Chairman Jerome George Korkoya mandated the Clerk of Writs, Antoinette Johnson, to issue a Writ for the Re-run of the Special Senatorial Election on the Elections Magistrate of Lower Bong County, BarzieKpangba.
Madam Johnson mandated the Magistrate to conduct a re-run of the Special Senatorial Election in the select precincts and polling center in Electoral District Number 7, Bong County, on September 29, 2015 from the hours of 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
She authorized the Lower Bong County Elections Magistrate to certify the endorsement of the writ of election by submitting to her office, the results of the Election following the completion of the electoral process.
An August 7, 2015 judgment of the Supreme Court in the Case: Henrique F. Tokpa vs. National Elections Commission and the National Patriotic Party (NPP) Candidate Jewel Howard Taylor mandates the NEC to conduct a re-run of the election within sixty (60) days as of August 7.
A Writ of Election is a legal instrument that authorizes Elections Magistrates to proceed with the conduct of elections. The issuance of the writ of Election is a requirement of Chapter 4 sub-section 4.3 of the New Elections Law of 1986.