In addition to voter registration, the commission tackled the difficult issue of electoral boundaries. John Langley, the commission's senior policy adviser, indicated the process was a collaborative effort by the agency and local communities. "We could not go and impose on citizens," Langley said. Commission officials held town-hall style meetings in local communities, where they presented rough outlines of the new boundaries and solicited ideas and questions. When commission staff returned to headquarters, they worked with international experts from UNMIL and IFES to nail down the boundaries for each district, taking into account social and cultural factors noted during the town hall gatherings. An IFES official explained the collaborative approach: "The village chiefs would come and say, 'No, that area there, the people over there will not feel satisfied if they are joined with these people.'"
On election day, the commission worked hard to prevent voter fraud and suspicions of fraud by monitoring polling staff and mandating adherence to electoral procedures. To assist illiterate voters, the commission printed candidates' photos and party symbols next to their names on the ballot. Still, many voters did not know how to mark their ballots. The commission therefore allowed polling station officers to instruct voters on the proper way to mark their ballots rather than risk widespread ballot invalidation. When the polls closed, party agents signed the official tally sheets to certify they had witnessed the counting of each ballot. Poll workers placed one copy of the tally sheet into a transparent ballot box along with the ballots, and sealed the box. Each party agent received a copy of the signed count. Poll workers then transported the box to the county elections office. The commission did not recount the ballots at the county elections office, nor did it undertake a parallel vote tabulation.
A cadre of international and domestic watchers helped ensure proper conduct of polling staff. Commissioners had visited their assigned counties in the weeks before the elections, observing training sessions and meeting with the magistrates to review preparations. Their presence delivered a clear message to poll workers that headquarters was carefully watching their actions. International forces provided election security, as the Liberia National Police were severely understaffed and under-resourced. Peacekeepers were stationed at every polling place, while mobile patrols kept watch over access points to and from the voting centers.
Thanks in part to these pre-emptive measures, the October elections unfolded relatively peacefully. However, tensions flared in November, when presidential candidate George Weah lost a run-off vote to his chief opponent, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. After the commission announced the run-off results, thousands of Weah supporters marched on the U.S. Embassy, under the supposition that the United States had rigged the election for Johnson-Sirleaf -- an idea espoused by the chairman of Weah's party. Protesters threw stones and police responded with tear gas. Weah appealed for calm while he challenged the result at the elections commission, which found insufficient evidence of fraud. He then appealed to the Supreme Court, but dropped the matter after the African Union pressed him to concede for the sake of peace.
Despite this controversy, the elections commission was satisfied with the conduct of the elections. Samuel Cole, the director of civic and voter education, noted proudly, "Today, people can look at the 2005 elections in Liberia as a role model in Africa." Although there were scattered incidents of violence before and after the voting, several factors contributed to the relative peace. The heavy presence of armed UNMIL peacekeepers prevented local disputes from worsening and gave voters confidence that they would be safe. The success of the elections also reflected the commission's care in staff selection, its emphasis on fairness for parties and candidates, its openness, and its willingness to relax certain requirements to encourage broad participation by Liberians.
Speaking in 2011, Frances Johnson-Morris recalled voters' enthusiasm for the 2005 elections. "Those were exciting times, because Liberia had been at war for nearly 14 years, and to have an opportunity to elect leaders that would take them out of the mode of belligerence and violence, that was very good," she said. She stressed that the commission's consultative approach earned the trust of voters and political parties. "When you involve people in decision making, you uphold your transparency and your credibility. I think we did that very well."