As part of strategies aimed at effectively spreading civic/voters’ education (CVE) messages for the August 23, 2011 National Referendum, the National Elections commission (NEC) has empowered about 200 civil society and community based organizations to help in delivering CVE content across the country. The organizations have been given small grant to help with the CVE exercise.
Speaking at a One Day orientation workshop for the selected organizations, the Chairman of the NEC, James M. Fromayan, expressed bliss to see the gathering of CSOs and CBOs ready to help in the dissemination of CVE messages for the impending referendum.
“Once you have volunteered to help the Commission in delivering CVE messages for the referendum, you must not adopt any partisan posture, you must remain neutral at all-times once you are working along with us”, Chairman Fromayan admonished the selected organizations.
Moreover, the NEC Chairman informed the organizations that, “you are not going out there to tell the voters which of the issues to vote for but rather you will be out there to encourage them to turn out and vote.”
Chairman Fromayan did not mince words in alerting the organizations that there are some Liberians who are bent on ensuring that successful elections are not held in this country for reasons best knowing to them. But he reminded them to be steadfast and ensure that massive CVE awareness reach the mass of the voting populace.
“When peaceful and credible elections are held, the entire nation will benefit” he emphasized.
The referendum, Chairman Fromayan said, is not so common to many voters and that situation is compounded by the fact that there are four issues on the ballot ticket to be voted on, stressing that the need for a focused and determined voters education on the part of the CSOs and CBOs cannot be overemphasized.
Earlier, the Executive Director of the NEC, John K. Langley, said the selected CSOs and CBOs are now coming in to compliment other aggressive CVE initiatives vigorously carried out by the Commission across the country. Adding, “the Commission ambition is to win by conducting a credible and transparent referendum ahead of the 2011 presidential and legislative elections”.
Calling the various organizations to be non-partisan during this exercise, he said the NEC hired the service of the groups after soliciting funding from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to support the elections project. He pointed out that this is in addition to subvention given to other groups by other donors to help in CVE content delivery for the referendum.
“This is a test to you all, if you perform well during this exercise it could be a recommendation for your subsequent selection to help with Civic voters’ education for the presidential and legislative elections so the task is yours to do your level best” Mr. Langley cautioned.
The selected CSOs and CBOs were drawn from a poll of over 200 CSOs and CBOs accredited by the NEC to help in the dissemination of a synchronized CVE messages for all electoral events in the country. The selection was made after application and projects designs were appraised and vetted by the Referendum Coordinating Committee in keeping with international best practice.
Each of the group will received funding to carry out CVE intervention across the 15 political sub-divisions of the country. This massive awareness program has been undertaking by Commission owing to the fact that the mass of the voters are accustomed to seen photographs on ballot ticket unlike the referendum ticket where only issues depicted in signs are reflected on the ballot ticket.
Chairman Fromayan admits that this will certainly be an uphill task given time constraints and limited resources but yet, despite all of these and in the face of undue criticisms, the NEC staff has confidence that it will see the process through with focused and dedication.
During the orientation section, the groups were given an overview of the CBOs and CSOs project and drilled through the 2011 Electoral Process, the Constitutional Referendum, community outreach concept and Civic voters’ education for the referendum and roles of CSOs and CBOs, among other cogent issues.
All of the selected groups were given synchronized CVE messages for the referendum, flyers, posters, stickers, CD Rom, video recordings as well as all sorts of referendum paraphernalia to help in the dissemination of the referendum messages thereby encouraging all eligible voters to turn out and vote on August 23, 2011.