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Elections

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In 2005, the election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf marked the end of a two-year political transition. New elections are scheduled in 2011. Voter turnout for the election was high. The survey shows that 77% of the respondents voted in the first round of the election, while a slightly lower, but still large, proportion voted in the second round (69%). These results are consistent with election monitoring reports suggesting participation rates of 75% and 60% for the first and second rounds, respectively.[1] Those who did not vote in either round generally mentioned being on travel or being too young/ineligible as the reason for not voting. The reported participation rates were lowest in Lofa, Greater Monrovia, and Rural Montserrado, where more than one in four respondents did not vote in the first round.

Table 29: Elections

Table 29 - Elections

Figure 27: 2011 Voting Intentions

 2011 Voting Intentions

Similar high rates of participation are expected for the 2011 elections, with 95% of the respondents indicating that they plan to vote. Most of them believed their vote to be important. The main reasons for not planning to vote were a general lack of interest (41%) and the perception that it would not matter. Those who said their vote was not important generally perceived elections as unfair, corrupt, or not making any difference.[2]

The fact that most Liberians plan to participate in the elections is positive and confirms the trend observed in 2005. Nevertheless, perception of bias in the election process may affect participation. Looking at the 2005 election, less than half the population (47%) believed the elections were completely free of electoral fraud, while 32% believed there was some or a lot of electoral fraud, and 20% were unsure. Negative perception of the 2005 election was most common in the southern counties of Grand Gedeh, River Gee, Maryland, and Sinoe. It is essential for the upcoming elections to be perceived as free and fair and to demonstrate the commitment of Liberian leaders to democratic principles.

Figure 28: Voting During the 2005 Presidential Election

 Voting During the 2005 Presidential Election

 



[1] National Democratic Institute and The Carter Center (2005): Observing Presidential and Legislative Elections in Liberia. The National Elections Commission of Liberia reported official figures of 74.9% turnout of registered voters (first round) and 61% (runoff): http://www.necliberia.org/results  accessed June 10, 2011.

[2] Interviews with elders and town chiefs have also shown that participation in the upcoming election might also depend on the proximity of the nearest polling station, especially in less densely populated areas, and in particular across the southeast. In several instances it was reported that villagers had to take three days for each round of voting in order to walk to and return from the designated polling station, citing dissatisfaction that it had been made more difficult for them to vote compared to the 1985 and 1997 elections.