People living with disabilities and Liberia’s 2023 elections

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As Liberia draws closer to its presidential and legislative elections, measures are being implemented by the National Elections Commission (NEC) to make it easier for People Living with Disabilities (PLWD) to cast their ballots.

Each polling place has six persons, namely the presiding officer (PO), voters identification officer (VIO), ballot paper issuer (BPI), inker, ballot box controller (BBC), queue controller and precinct queue controller.

Voting will kick start at 8:00 a.m. and end at 6:00 p.m. However, at 6:00 p.m., all voters in queue can cast their ballots.

Ballots will be counted at the close of the polls in the full view of the party/candidate agents, including domestic and international observers and the media.

Three categories of ballot papers will be issued to voters, representing the three categories of the polls: president, senator and representative elections. The categories will be carrying the colours red, blue and green respectively.   

According to the National Elections Commission (NEC), there are 2,471,617 registered voters who will be voting in 5,890 places across the country and 20 presidential and vice presidential candidates.

What are the voting steps?

• Join the queue at the place where you registered and were given a valid voter ID card.

• Proceed to the Voter Identification Officer (VIO) on the instruction of the Queue Controller (QC) to check if your voter ID is in the Final Registration Roll (FRR).

• Proceed to the Ballot Paper Issuer (BPI), and they will briefly indicate how you should fold the ballot.

• Proceed with the ballot paper of the President and Vice President in RED, the ballot of the Senate in BLUE, and the ballot of the Representative in GREEN behind the voting screen and mark each ballot either by using a thumb or a pen.

• Proceed to the inker for your right cuticle (second finger) to be inked.

•Proceed with the three ballot papers and place them in the corresponding ballot boxes marked RED, BLUE, and GREEN to cast your ballot.

Leave the polling place once you have voted, and go home and wait for the election results.

What are the measures for PLWD?

According to the National Elections Commission of Liberia, every Liberian, once you are a registered voter, including persons with disabilities, will be allowed to vote on October 10 this year.

“Regardless of physical conditions, all registered voters are eligible to cast a ballot in his or her assigned polling place at the centre where he or she registered. The NEC encourages all registered voters to vote on Election Day,” the National Elections Commission of Liberia said.

The NEC also clarified that voters with disabilities will be given preferential treatment on election day. The NEC said that no person with a disability would be allowed to stand in long queues but would rather be assisted by polling staff to move to the front of the queue to cast their ballots.

Also, persons with special disabilities like the visually impaired (blind) and others may get help marking their ballots from only another trusted registered voter on election day.

The NEC stated, “Any registered voter may help a person with a disability to mark their ballots and cast it, but such person must be someone you trust. Anyone helping another voter should always remember to keep the vote of the person you are helping secret.”

The NEC also clarified that pregnant women would not be allowed to stand in long queues on election day and would be brought to the front of the line to cast their votes.

Meanwhile, though a biometric voter registration process was done during the voter registration process, the National Elections Commission of Liberia has made it clear that voting will not be done biometrically on election day.  

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