Claim: Helicopter Is not a means of transporting ballot materials by NEC
Verdict: Untrue, the United Nations transported ballot boxes in 2005, 2011 and 2017.
Full text: “Helicopters are not considered the channel of distribution of election materials.”
Verification: Liberia, a country with poor road infrastructure, experienced difficulties in accessing counties during the rainy season. With this major challenge, it is often difficult to transport electoral materials across the country.
According to the 1986 Constitution, elections are to be held on October 10 of every election year. This timing falls directly at the end of the rainy season when there has already been much damage done to the roads that connect various counties.
In this light, Henry Fomo, Communications Director, National Elections Commission (NEC), informed the Spoon Network’s Nighttime show on November 13, 2023, that helicopters are not one of the modes of transportation used by the commission to distribute ballot papers for the 2023 elections.
Flomo’s response was in response to a report that a helicopter had been sighted in Lofa dropping pre-marked voting papers throughout the county.
TSM looked into the NEC spokesperson’s comments and discovered something contradictory.
While there is no record confirming the situation in Lofa and there is no indication that the commission is using helicopters to distribute ballot material for all two phases of the 2023 elections, we discovered a 2018 publication that contradicts Flomo’s claim.
Image showing the arrival of a UNMIL helicopter to deliver ballots for the Liberian Presidential Elections
UNMIL provided support to three of Liberia’s post-war elections and was an important enabler in their success. In the 2005 election, UNMIL had a mandate to help organize the elections. The NEC and the government saw UNMIL as a great enabler. In 2011, the mission’s mandate was more limited, but UNMIL again provided logistical support. In 2017, Liberia as a nation took control of the elections but received logistical support from UNMIL, including airlifting election materials, as the government has no aviation capacity.
Conclusion: Our research established that NEC used helicopters to transport ballot materials during previous elections due to the deplorable road conditions.