In this interview, James Wallace describes his experiences as the Director of Training of the National Elections Commission of Liberia during the country’s 2005 elections. Wallace discusses the preparations undertaken by the commission prior to the elections, including boundary delimitation, civic education and voter registration. As Liberia was just emerging from a civil conflict, there were a number of obstacles that made these processes particularly difficult. And because of this extraordinary situation, extraordinary methods had to be employed, including, for registration purposes, the use of language and accents as a means for officials to identify individuals as being Liberians, as well the use of a vouching system in which prominent Liberians could vouch for the citizenship of fellow community members. Wallace emphasizes the importance of community involvement throughout voting processes, through consultations with local leaders during boundary delimitation and in educating the electorate. He goes on to describe the logistics behind polling centers and the breakdown of responsibilities of workers as well as the mechanisms, both technological and logistical, employed to prevent fraud. Wallace concludes by emphasizing the importance of teamwork, openness to criticism and innovation to success for anyone with similar responsibilities.
At the time of this interview, James Wallace was the Director of Training of the National Elections Commission of Liberia.