Liberia: NEC Claims Low Women Turnout

By Winston W. Parley

The Executive Director of the National Elections Commission or NEC, Mr. Lamin Lighe says “initial reports from a lot of quarters” have suggested a low turnout of women in the ongoing voter registration exercise, while reporting a higher turnout for men.

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the president of Liberia, has been a vocal opponent of FGM.
Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the president of Liberia, has been a vocal opponent of FGM.

“…And especially we like to call on women; there has been some … what I’m saying is unofficial … there [have] been reports in lot of corners that kind of indicate that there’s a low turnout [of] women, you know”, Mr. Lighe said Thursday morning, 23 February.

Women here are said to make up more than 49 percent of the country’s population of over four million people, making up a significant portion if eligible women voters get registered.

The NEC Executive Director announced Thursday that very soon the Commission will be releasing processed results from the data center where forms that come from the field are processed to have an”actual, accurate data”.

Mr. Lighe and UNDP Chief Technical Advisor closed to the commission, Mr. George Baratashvili had appeared on UNMIL Radio on Thursday, when the NEC official noted that the Commission was targeting 2.5 million registrants for the October elections.

Looking at population growth analysis, data obtained from the Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services or LISGIS and the different age categories here, Mr. Lighe said it is anticipated that

“most probably, about 2.5 million people will be the targeted people who should be 18 and above”. He denied reports of shortage of registration forms at voter registration centers, claiming that “all the centers have more than

enough forms to register Liberians”.

He said the voter registration process has gone more than two and a half week, thus encouraging Liberians to register and be qualified to vote.

The voter registration process continues to face challenges of low turnout and complaints from those claiming to be turned away either for lack of registration forms or defective equipment, though NEC has denied claims of forms shortage.

Regarding registrants’ impatience to stay some time at voter centers to enable NEC workers to take their photographs and print out photos, Mr. Lighe argued that it required some level of patriotism.

“And let’s be honest, a lot of us have subjected ourselves to different processes where we go, we apply for visas and other things. We know what we go through. I mean this is a national call and this call for some level of patriotism.

I understand this might inconvenient us, but this is something we did in 2005″, he argued.

Citing economic challenges in the country, he insisted that it would cost NEC so much money to print photos of one registrant at a time looking at the targeted 2.5 million persons in the exercise.

Concerning the issue of camera, UNDP Technical Advisor Mr. George Baratashvili said “we’re” trying to make sure that the [equipment] are in good quality to aid the process.


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