The Carter Center today released the final report from its observation mission of Liberia’s 2017 elections, outlining key findings and offering recommendations for reform to strengthen Liberia’s electoral process. The Carter Center’s international election observation reflects the Center’s long-term commitment to support democratic development and improve health in the country. The Center plans to remain engaged in Liberia, working with the current government, civil society organizations, the Liberian National Police, and community leaders to advance access to justice, access to information, and mental health.
Liberia’s 2017 presidential and House of Representatives elections were a historic milestone for the country, demonstrating Liberians’ commitment to peace and democratic development. The first round of elections on Oct. 10 were orderly and transparent, despite long lines in some polling places, particularly in urban areas. The electoral dispute-resolution process that followed the first round of voting posed an important test of Liberia’s resilience. While the fundamental rights of justice and access to an effective remedy were broadly respected, elements of Liberia’s electoral dispute-resolution system should be reviewed to avoid the potential for constitutional crises in the future. The presidential run-off election that took place on Dec. 26 was technically sound and demonstrated some improvements over the first round, including identification of voter’s polling places and a more efficient tabulation process.
In a spirit of respect and support, the Center’s observation mission identified several areas where steps can be taken to improve the conduct of future elections in Liberia, including:
Promotion of the Political Rights of Participation of Women, Youth, Persons with Disabilities, LGBTI, and Ethnic and Religious Minorities
Women’s political participation. The failure of Liberia’s legal framework and electoral process to bring women’s political participation in line with the country’s international commitments is one of the greatest weaknesses of Liberia’s democracy. Liberia’s legislature, eletoral authorities, and other stakeholders should consider a range of steps to increase women’s participation in public affairs, including passing legislation to promote women’s political participation, increasing the number of women working in the administration of elections, waiving fees for female candidates, granting female candidates access to the media, and continuing to collect data on gender and minority representation (including continued use of the gender data capture sheet).