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Liberia Elections: How poll winner will be decided

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Liberians have gone to the polls, the counting of ballots has ended, and the tallying process has been ongoing at the National Elections Commission of Liberia (NEC).

The elections were held on Oct. 10, 2023, to elect new individuals at the level of the presidency and vice presidency, the House of Representatives, and the Liberian Senate.

According to articles 47, 48 & 50 of the Liberian Constitution, elections should be held every six years to elect a new president and vice president, 73 members of the House of Representatives and 15 senators.

How long does it take for NEC to announce the official results?

According to section 4.12 of the new elections law of Liberia, found on page 6 of this document, following the casting of ballots on election day, the National Elections Commission (NEC) temporary polling staff will commence the counting of ballots and this will follow the issuance of copy tally sheets to first and second highest at a particular polling place. These copies will also carry the signatures of both the highest (1st & 2nd) and the presiding officer of that polling centre

The original copy of these tally sheets will be placed in an envelope, sealed up and taken to the tallying centre of the National Elections Commission (NEC) within every county.

At the tallying centre, the NEC’s statisticians, will on a daily basis tally all of the results and while tallying is ongoing the board of commissioners of the NEC will update the public on a daily basis with progress reports with regards to the elections’ results. 

According to article 83(c) of Liberia’s constitution, the results of the elections shall be announced within fifteen days after the casting of ballots. Also, as stated in article 83 (b) of the Liberian Constitution all elections of public officers shall be on the basis of absolute majority and in the event where no candidate obtains the absolute majority in the first ballots, a second round of election shall be conducted. This only applies to the level of Representatives and Senators.

At the level of the presidency, to win the Liberian presidency, a candidate must obtain 50% plus one vote, if not the two candidates with the highest number will go to a run-off election or second to be declared as winner.

What happens if no presidential candidates obtain the required threshold?

In the event that no presidential candidate obtains the required 50% +1 votes threshold to be declared winner, article 83(b) states that the two candidates with the highest amount of votes shall go to a runoff election.

This article states among other things: “If no candidate obtains an absolute majority in the first ballot, a second ballot shall be conducted on the second Tuesday following. The two candidates who received the most votes on the first ballot shall be designated to participate in the run-off election.”

What happens in the event of dissatisfaction?

In 2017, the opposition Liberty Party took the National Elections Commission to the Supreme Court of Liberia over what they termed as elections fraud. Still, the court ruled that their claims were not sufficient enough to overturn the election results and to grant a rerun of the entire elections process.

Article 83(c) of Liberia’s constitution states among other things: “The Elections Commission shall, within thirty days of receipt of the complaint, conduct an impartial investigation and render a decision which may involve a dismissal of the complaint or a nullification of the election of a candidate. Any political party or independent candidate affected by such decision shall not later than seven days appeal against it to the Supreme Court.”

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