Since the voter registration (VR) was launched on February 1, the process has been marred by a barrage of irregularities ranging from misspelling of potential voters’ names to malfunctioning equipment and the “trucking” of eligible voters.The VR problems have now caught the attention of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR) which said in a statement, that it is deeply concerned and worried about the waves of irregularities and other irregularities surrounding the VR process at various registration centers.Specifically, the INCHR said it has observed with grave concern the lack of logistics, abandonment of centers due to untimely payment of stipend to VR registration workers, insufficient registration centers and lack of security personnel in electoral districts #11, #15, #17, #5 and several other centers inMontserrado County as well as Grand Kru, Lofa, Nimba, Maryland, Bong and Grand Gedeh counties.“We have also observed that cameras, scanners and other equipment assigned to these centers to identify and prevent electoral fraud are malfunctioning, thereby either slowing down the registration or completely halting the process,” Commissioner James D. Torh said in a release.“The magnitude of these limitations,” the INCHR release said, “seriously challenges the resolve of Liberians and this government to ensure free, fair and transparent elections is held where every Liberian is afforded equal access, opportunity and space to exercise their political rights.”Another organization that raised similar concerns recently was the Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC), which spoke of similar irregularities the VR process has encountered.The ECC spoke on the issues at a news conference in Monrovia where it also made mention of late arrival of staff at registration centers, miss-location of registration centers, misspelling of the names of registrants, defective cameras, and lack of security officers at registration centers.“Overall reports from the ECC observers across all 15 sub-political divisions (say) there have been challenges such as some centers not opening or issues with the cameras, but these have not been widespread,” said head of ECC’s Steering Committee, Oscar Bloh.Meanwhile, the INCHR strongly reaffirmed its commitment to promote human rights during the electoral processes and called on the government to expeditiously provide the necessary support to NEC to avert undue derailment of public trust in the upcoming elections.The INCHR is also calling on all eligible Liberians to register and report all and any behaviors inconsistent with the VR guidelines.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Gordon Oliver, Columbian’s business editor I was the only man in the room last Wednesday at the monthly meeting of the Women Entrepreneurs Organization of Clark County. I had no complaints, but I had to wonder what advice about the news business I could offer these hardworking women whose business ventures ranged from tattoo artist to real estate broker.I was part of a media panel with Cindy Johnson of the Vancouver Business Journal and Dawn Feldhaus of the Camas-Washougal Post-Record. Moderator Chandra Chase of the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce posed three questions, which I paraphrase: What are tips for getting what she called “earned media” — an article in the newspaper? What mistakes do women entrepreneurs make in trying to get coverage about their businesses? And how has the Internet changed what stories get covered?Straightforward questions, with not-so-simple answers. The news business is hot and cold — some days are stuffed with news, while on others we worry about how to fill all the white space on a page. So the threshhold for breaking into print (and columbian.com) varies from one day to the next. No surprise. It’s not that we don’t have standards — plenty of suggested stories are too small, too insignificant, or too irrelevant to make the cut even on the slowest of days. But between that low place and the obvious news stories lie plenty of gray areas requiring day-to-day decisions.Before discussing mistakes in pitching stories, I offer my thanks to the entrepreneurs, both men and women, who reach out with story ideas. We love to hear them. We can’t be everywhere, and our readers and small businesses are our eyes and ears. The mistakes come from not understanding The Columbian’s frame of reference. Our franchise is local — in most cases, that means Clark County, not Portland. Information about employee promotions and recognition is likely to land in our Sunday paper and online. We’re always looking for profile subjects for our Monday “Working in Clark County” feature. Stories about significant changes or growth of a small business often become a news brief. For larger stories, we’re on the lookout for stories that reveal larger trends in our economy and communities.