The Liberia Elections Observation Network (LEON) commends all Liberians for the peaceful conduct of elections and cautions politicians and political commentators against making inciting comments or actions that could derail the progress of results tallying.
In a statement, LEON said it observed and monitored the entire elections process throughout on Election Day through its 700 observers stationed around the country. The organization said the report is based on its observation of the closing and counting procedures applied by the NEC staff from 404 checklists submitted to the database and verbal reports from observers.
LEON is a neutral election observation organization and all observers signed a pledge that they will report accurately and impartially.
“Counting was conducted peacefully in almost all parts of the country despite the tensions that had arisen during the day. Generally, closing and counting followed NEC procedures in 80% of the polling places observed. 98% of LEON’s observers reported that polling staff were present throughout the counting process and that reconciliation of ballots received against ballots used was done before counting began in 97% of the places observed. Party Agents and other Observes were allowed a clear view during the counting process in almost all (99%) of the polling places observed,” the statement said.
According to the statement, LEON observed that people other than the polling staff were involved with the counting process in 3% of the places observed, but did not observe any deliberate falsification of the results.
The statement added “There were arguments in 9% of the places observed over the determination of invalid votes cast with an average of 4% invalid votes reported across the polling places. LEON believes this percentage of invalid votes seems normal in the election history of this country.”
“LEON observed that party agents refused to sign the Presiding Officer’s worksheet in 16% of the places observed and the Senatorial record of Count in 21% of the places observed and there were official complaints made in 12% of polling places. However, LEON observers themselves only noticed problems in a quarter of these polling places (3% of all places observed) and generally assessed the counting process as Very Good or Good,” the statement.
The statement further said “Thus LEON assesses that party agents are being very cautious in not signing the Record of the Count forms in case their party leadership wishes to make complaints later.
LEON observers noted only two incidents during counting. One was in Grand Bassa District 2 Rev Gardner’s School, precinct 09143. Around 10.00pm a group of people arrived and tried to obstruct the counting process. Polling staff locked themselves (and the LEON observer) in the building until police came to disperse the crowd. The second incident was in Nimba District 9, Tappita Memorial school, precinct 33162, where the election officer carried the materials and results to his house at 11.45 after finishing the count, saying he would deliver them the next day, The police came and arrested him after a complaint was made.”
LEON said it continued to follow the incidents reported on Election Day and is systematically documenting what was reported on social media and radio. “A LEON long term observer verified that the commotion at the Emmanuel School on S. D. Cooper Road, Montserrado, was caused by party agents and observers who were unsatisfied with how the poll workers were handling the counting process. The Presiding Officer had security remove the observers and party agents from the center and called the Electoral Supervisor who came with additional security. The ES replaced the poll workers with new staff who completed counting and allowed observers and party agents back into the center.”
LEON has teams of observers at each tally center around the country, including one at each station at the NEC headquarters in Monrovia. Results tallying started in the afternoon and are being conducted in an orderly and transparent manner so far. Political parties and candidate agents are also watching and can compare with their own copies of the results sheets. The process is calm. LEON urges the NEC to be timely in its release of partial results so that people can begin to see progress before parties start announcing their own tallies.
The Liberia Elections Observation Network (LEON), launched in May 2017 is a platform of four Liberian Civil Society Organizations: The Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (JPC), Liberia Crusaders for Peace (LCP), Federation of Liberia Youth (FLY) and National Union of Organizations for the Disabled (NUOD) with the goal to meaningfully contribute to democratization processes in Liberia. LEON has a core team in Monrovia and observers stationed in all 73 electoral districts of Liberia as well as a team of social media monitors who ha ve been reporting on the campaign and election preparations.
LEON has trained and deployed 700 observers around the country for election day who have been trained on polling and counting procedures. Observers complete detailed checklists and send these reports at set times by SMS directly to the LEON database so that our data can be analysed in real time. They also phone if they witness a serious incident so that LEON can report this to the relevant authorities.
LEON will continue observing the tally and results process around the country in order to ensure the utmost transparency.
All of LEONs reports and surveys are available on its website. LEON receives funding from the Swedish Cooperation and Irish Aid and technical support from the Carter Center and would like to express its appreciation to these partners.
Has been in the profession for over twenty years. He has worked for many international media outlets including: West Africa Magazine, Africa Week Magazine, African Observer and did occasional reporting for CNN, BBC World Service, Sunday Times, NPR, Radio Deutchewells, Radio Netherlands. He is the current correspondent for Reuters
He holds first MA with honors in International Relations and a candidate for second master in International Peace studies and Conflict Resolution from the University of Liberia.