Carter Center Issues Preliminary Statement on Liberia Election

Contact: Soyia Ellison,

MONROVIA, LIBERIA — In a preliminary statement issued today, The Carter Center commended Liberians for the calm and peaceful atmosphere of their nation’s Oct. 10 election.

No matter the outcome of this election, it will result in a transfer of power from one democratically elected government to another for the first time in the lives of many Liberians. This moment marks an important turning point for the nation’s democracy, and the Liberian people have shown a clear desire for a peaceful and smooth transfer of power.

The Carter Center was honored to observe the entire pre-election process and commends the Liberian people for their clear enthusiasm and determination to peacefully express their will at the ballot box. The pre-election period was characterized by a peaceful campaign, transparent preparations, and logistical challenges.

The Center’s observers, who were deployed across all 15 of Liberia’s counties on election day, report that the opening, polling, closing, and counting processes were generally conducted according to procedure in the approximately 145 polling places they visited. In most of these locations, materials were delivered on time, and polls opened on time. However, observers across most counties reported difficulty in locating voters on the Final Registration Roll in some polling places. In what appeared to be a related problem, observers reported that ineffective queue management, mainly in large precincts, affected the orderly flow of the polling, creating confusion among voters and long lines throughout the day.

It is important to note, however, that Liberia’s election process is still ongoing and that The Carter Center cannot issue an overall assessment until several important steps – including any dispute resolution – are concluded. This statement is one of five that the Center has made about the process, and it only covers observations to date. Further reports addressing the tabulation process, the resolution of election disputes, and the post-election environment will follow. 

In the spirit of respect and support, The Carter Center offers the National Election Commission the following short-term recommendations:

  • The NEC has acknowledged difficulties with long lines and queue management at polling precincts. Given this, if there is a runoff, we recommend the NEC offer precinct staff enhanced instructions on these issues before a second round. It is crucial that voters be able to easily identify their polling station. We suggest giving this information at the entrance to the polling precinct in a manner that is clear to all voters before a voter begins to stand in line for a particular polling place.
  • Observers noted that NEC officials were proactive in visiting polling stations to resolve problems on election day, and we encourage the NEC to continue to react promptly as issues arise throughout the tabulation process.
  • Transparency is crucial in an election, and the Center urge the NEC to continue its efforts to ensure that the tabulation process is transparent at all levels and that the public is provided the information it needs to fully understand the process.
  • The prompt release of results is an effective means of building confidence among the electorate and preventing confusion and tension. To this end, the Center urges the NEC to release provisional results, including at the polling place level. Provisional results should be released as soon as they are ready and include a clear indication of the counties and percentage of precincts reporting.
  • Political parties should uphold their responsibility to ensure that their supporters maintain the peace throughout the electoral process and through the transition that will follow. 

Read the full statement (PDF) >

The Center’s mission is led by former President of the Central African Republic H.E. Catherine Samba-Panza; Chairman of The Carter Center Board of Trustees Jason Carter; and Vice President of Peace Programs for The Carter Center Jordan Ryan. The Carter Center deployed international observers for Liberia’s October 2017 national election at the invitation of Liberian authorities and political stakeholders. The Carter Center’s election observation work began with pre-election assessment teams that visited Liberia beginning in 2016, including one that observed the voter registration process in February and March of 2017. A core team of electoral experts and six long-term observers from five countries assessed election preparations throughout the country in the two months leading up to election day. On Oct. 10, 50 observers from 17 countries visited approximately 145 polling stations in all 15 counties to observe voting and counting. On Oct. 11, they began observation of the tabulation process across the 15 counties. The Carter Center’s long-term observers continue to monitor the ongoing tabulation process and finalization of official results, and the Center will remain in Liberia to observe the resolution of any post-election disputes. The Carter Center assesses elections against international standards for democratic elections contained in the host country’s international obligations and commitments and its national legal framework. The Center conducts its election observation missions in accordance with the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation, which was endorsed in 2005.


"Waging Peace. Fighting Disease. Building Hope."
A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in over 80 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; and improving mental health care. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.