October 11th, 2011, the day of general elections in Liberia, is drawing to a close here in Monrovia and there really isn’t too much to say. The day has passed by peaceably without any major disturbances. There were long lines at most polling stations, but voters waited patiently and I haven’t heard of a polling station that had to stay open later than 6pm. I was able to visit some polling stations and I took the photo above of the people waiting in line, after getting their permission of course.
The Ushahidi Liberia team was all decked out in their election observer garb. I appreciated the one-size-fits-all size of a Liberian polo shirt actually fits me. However, after wearing it straight for 14 hours I wish it was made of cotton and not polyester. Though really I have nothing to complain about.
Today iLab Liberia played host to the Election Coordinating Committees (ECC) data entry clerks. The ECC has 2000 election observers spread through out the country and they’re calling the data entry clerks who are then typing the data into a Google Form. It started off pretty slow, since there just wasn’t that much to report about, but right now everyone is filing their end of day reports as the counting at polling stations finishes up, so the phone lines are pretty busy. iLab was also visited by a smattering of journalist, election observers, and NGO workers.
Earlier tonight I went to see the votes being counted. It was as tedious and intense as it sounds. By no means was it fast, but I was very impressed with how deliberate, transparent, serious, and seemingly accurate the counting was. One by one each ballot was read, held up for all to see, and then place in the stack for the voted for candidate. Then the stacks were counted. At one polling station the observers demanded the polling staff recount the votes, which took a while. From what I saw at the polling station I was at, which in no way, shape, or form constitues a significantly significant sampling, CDC and UP were neck and neck.
After watching them count the ballots my colleagues and I headed over to the National Elections Commission for their end of day press conference. They pretty much said everything I said at the beginning of this blog post. Things went well, they thanked the donors and organizations that assisted them and then took questions from the reporters. I thought it was pretty cool to get to be a part of all of this. I was really impressed with the NEC’s swank press briefing room. Cold AC, flat screen TVs and lots of chairs, what else would you need?