She and her seven-member team faced a number of hurdles. First, finding qualified election staff would be difficult. Much of Liberia's educated class had fled the country, leaving a relatively small pool of qualified individuals. Second, much of Liberia's transportation and communication infrastructure had been damaged or neglected during the war, and large parts of the country were inaccessible by road. The elections commission needed to register and educate people about the elections; contacting them would be problematic. Moreover, voters had to be able to reach polling places. Adding to these difficulties, mobile phone networks covered only half of the country, and few places outside Monrovia, the capital, had access to the Internet. Third, the commission had to manage a diverse collection of political parties and hundreds of candidates. Most had no experience in campaigning, and political parties were often formed around personalities rather than interests or issues.
To tackle these challenges, the commissioners met every Tuesday to propose, debate, and vote on new rules to guide the elections. They realized that in order to win public trust, they needed qualified and apolitical staff at their headquarters. The commission advertised for positions, reviewed applications, and shortlisted candidates. They interviewed finalists, who completed a written assessment of their ability to read and write in English. The screening committee disqualified any candidates who expressed partisan views. Many of the new hires had backgrounds in civil society, but few had practical experience in elections management. The commission's international partners trained the headquarters staff on operational issues including voter registration, boundary delimitation, and polling procedures.
To oversee elections on the county level, the commission appointed magistrates, who were required to hold bachelor's degrees and work in the county in which they lived. United Nations civil service workers assisted the magistrates in hiring a total of 19,000 poll workers. Given the shortage of educated workers, particularly in rural areas, the election commission set few requirements for poll workers. Magistrates gave preference to teachers and other educated professionals, but considered candidates who displayed a basic ability to read and write.
In registering political parties, the commission required new parties to submit lists of at least 500 voting members from 12 of Liberia's 15 counties, rather than from six counties as previously required. Although this provision appeared more onerous, the commission purposefully did not scrutinize the list of voting members in an effort to promote inclusiveness; any move to keep a significant party out of the election could result in disputes and delay the elections process.
The commissioners sought to enhance communications with the parties by creating a consultative group, the Inter-Party Consultative Committee (IPCC). Modeled after a successful experiment in Ghana, the committee was designed with input from both the election commission and the political parties. They agreed that each party would send two representatives to a monthly committee meeting, at which any issues could be raised. Commission staffers would then issue a press release to document resolutions. "The intent behind the Inter-Party Consultative Committee was to defuse tensions and minimize suspicions and misconceptions between the elections commission and the political parties," Johnson-Morris explained. "We wanted to work as partners, not antagonists."