Liberia: “Biometric Voter Registration Process Not Genuine”

Headquarters of the National Elections Commission


— CEDEM releases observations on Phase 1 of the NEC voter registration exercise.

In an electoral jurisdiction such as Liberia, where a series of elections have been conducted using the manual Optical Marked Recognition System (OMR), the use of a digital system known as the Biometric Enrollment System (BES) is necessary.  

This is because the BES is a safety gear that prevents the manipulation of the manual OMR system by voters and political actors, which usually becomes easier once the electorate and political contestants become accustomed to the manual system. 

Manipulation of the OMR system is usually in the form of multiple registrations by voters, and the casting of ballots on behalf of registrants, made possible by the seizure and purchase of voter registration cards by political actors. 

The biometric enrollment system prevents multiple registrations because voters are fingerprinted during the collection of their data. Equally, it prevents the multiple casting of ballots by a voter coupled with the casting of the ballot on behalf of another person by the verification of voters on the day of an election using the biometric system. 

However, it is important to emphasize that the biometric system can only yield these desired results if the system is honestly and professionally applied by the Electoral Management Body (EMB) known as the Electoral Commission.


Sadly, this is not the case in Liberia. The prevailing biometric registration process is not genuine but pseudo because the current voter registration process is in reality an OMR registration in disguise. The only difference between the current purported biometric registration and the former OMR registration is the quality of the voter card. 

The current card is a PVC Card while the former OMR card was PLASTIC. Unlike a biometric card that usually has a chip and a hologram, the current card has only a barcode thus rendering it vulnerable to duplication.

Moreover, in a challenging environment (where there is no internet connectivity across the Country) as is the case in Liberia, no credible Electoral Commission can conduct a biometric registration exercise by collecting data and making available to registrants the voter registration card on the same day. 

The provision of registration cards on the same day of data collection is possible only in a non-challenging environment (where there is internet connectivity across the Country) as is the case of Countries outside the global South such as those in Europe, North and South America, Arabia, Australia, and most parts of Asia. 

In challenging environments such as Liberia, a genuine biometric voter registration process would entail the collection of data accompanied by the provision of voter registration cards at most after seven (7) days. 

That period would enable the Commission to clean the roll by removing all multiple registrants that bypassed the system due to inactive internet connectivity during the enrollment or registration exercise. 

In Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, etc., countries that have challenging environments like Liberia, an acknowledgement receipt is made available to a registrant following the collection of his or her data and the biometric registration card is made available after at most a seven (7) day period. 

To make available to a registrant, a biometric registration card on the same day of data collection in an environment like Liberia, as is being done by the Davidetta Browne-Lansanah led NEC, completely erodes any possibility by the Commission to remove from the roll any multiple registrant notwithstanding the mounting evidence of multiple registrations already reported. 

With the many pieces of evidence relating to the multiple registrations occurring in Monrovia and its environs, one can imagine the alarming multiple registrations that are occurring in rural Liberia. Indeed, there is reason to believe that the result of the current purported biometric voter registration would give rise to a Final Registration Roll (FRR) that is vulnerable to fraud similar to what obtained in 2017 or worse.

To crown it all, the National Elections Commission openly authenticated the fake nature of the current biometric registration process by announcing that the voter registration would be conducted using biometrics (digital) and that the casting of ballots would be done using OMR (manual).


Indeed, Liberia is on the march to make another infamous history that could go in the Guinness Book of Record. The beneficiaries of this unfolding scam are Davidetta Browne-Lanasanah and her fellow partisan Commissioners along with their sponsors within the corridor of Government. 

Together, they have succeeded in deceiving the Liberian people that a genuine biometric voter registration exercise is being conducted while in reality it is an OMR system disguised as biometric. Besides, we are told that the gadgetry was allegedly   purchased with the astronomical amount of over ten million United States Dollars (USD10, 000,000.00) of tax-payers’ money.

Another issue of grave concern are the figures announced by the National Elections Commission (NEC) as results for the first phase of the prevailing Voter Registration exercise. According to the NEC, more than eight hundred thousand (800,000) persons registered in Montserrado County in just 21 days. The figures announced by the NEC, with specific reference to the figures for Montserrado County, is astonishing and has the trapping of a fake result because of the following reasons: 

  1. There were multiple machine failures, in some cases like G. W. Gibson, the machine was down for the whole of March 20. All of these factors brought the registration process to a total halt at many centers across Montserrado County;
  1. There were shortages of cards associated with the registration process that resulted to a slowdown of the process for several hours at nearly all the Centers across Montserrado 


  1. There was frequent power failure at many registration Centers due to the absence of solar power. In a given situation near SKD, a contestant provided a generator to the NEC staffers, but the community members revolted against that move. 

The process was halted for several hours at that center. This was a common occurrence in Montserrado and was more pronounced in the other five counties. This situation prompted the UNDP to donate couple of generators to the NEC on 17 April 2023 to aid the registration of Voters in the other remaining nine counties. It is important to emphasize that the Commission granted only four hours’ extension for the last two days in the face of the above mentioned complications.

Notwithstanding these complications, the NEC created huge doubts relating to the credibility of the prevailing Voter Registration process by announcing that nearly one million (1,000,000) persons registered in Montserrado County in just 21 days. 

There are doubts surrounding the figures announced by the Commission because people have genuine reasons to believe that the National Elections Commission is using the preliminary result of the debunked and discredited Population and Housing Census as a benchmark in relation to the result of the current voter registration exercise. 

To erase the increasing doubts that have the potential to negatively impact the conduct of the pending crucial national elections, it is imperative that the NEC disaggregate per precinct, the figures announced as results of the just ended phase 1 of the Voter Registration Exercise. 

Moreover, the blue books in which registered voters signed for their registration cards at the various centers, be made available to the stakeholders especially Political Parties in order to establish the authenticity of the figures announced by the Commission. 

The Online registration of voters is another subject of increasing doubts that have enveloped the credibility of the Voter Registration process due to the fact that there is no effective tracking system in place for observers to follow the process since there was no awareness relating to this very strange component of the registration exercise.

In this regard, the NEC should make available to the Stakeholders and the public at large the number of persons registered online as per precinct to enhance the transparency of the registration process. This would help restore credibility to the Voter Registration exercise and further contribute to the conduct of free and fair elections come October 2023. 

Following the conduct of more than two (2) Presidential and Legislative Elections in Liberia, it is deeply troubling and disturbing that our Country’s electoral process is being tremendously hampered by the trappings of lack of credibility.

 We have arrived at this juncture in the electoral history of our Country because it cannot be overemphasized that the current composition of the National Elections Commission is partisan and incompetent. This fact is attested by series of actions the Commission has taken over the years with specific reference to the unfolding biometric voter registration project. The actions include:

  1. LAXTON, the Vendor selected by the National Elections Commission (NEC) to implement the Biometric Voter Registration Project has very limited experience with the conduct of biometric voter registration in a challenging environment like Liberia. Coupled with its limited experience, the company is not financially viable. As a consequence of its lack of financial viability in addition to its limited profile, it was disqualified by the NEC during  the earlier bidding process at the Commission;
  1. Following the rejection of EKEMP (the Vendor earlier favored by the NEC to be awarded the biometric registration contract) by the Public Procurement and Concessions Commission (PPCC), the NEC amazingly contradicted itself by awarding the biometric registration contract to Laxton.  

The Deputy Chair of the NEC took an exception to what she referred to as the Chair lady, Davidetta Lansanah “unilateral” decision to select Laxton. To enable Laxton to acquire the financial capacity to procure the supposed biometric equipment, the NEC, with the acquiescence of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) violated the Public Financial Management (PFM) Law which required that payment for goods and services provided to the Government of Liberia (GOL) be made at least one month following delivery. 

Contrary to this cardinal legal requirement, millions of United States Dollars was reportedly paid by the NEC to Laxton prior to the delivery of a single biometric training kit;

  1. To prove its incapacity to conduct a genuine biometric registration process, especially in a challenging environment, Laxton, following a protracted period of more than sixty (60) days, delivered twenty (20) training Kits to train a thousand five hundred (1500) biometric registration staff. 

With seventy-five (75) persons expected to be trained using a single kit, it was a fantasy to believe that the said training could be adequate. Hence, the training was inadequate and similar to the training conducted by LISGIS that gave rise to the fraudulent census result. 

Moreover, it took Laxton more than an additional ninety (90] days following the delivery of the training kits to bring in Country additional materials for the supposed biometric registration process. It is significant to emphasize that the materials brought in Liberia by Laxton to conduct biometric registration across the Country were less than two thousand, eighty (2080) sets. 

 As such, the NEC unilaterally decided to take the unprecedented decision to partition the Country into two parts to conduct a so-called biometric registration of voters because of the insufficiency of materials to cover the two thousand and eighty (2080) precincts across Liberia;

  1. To accommodate for its selected Vendor’s incapacity to timely procure and deliver the supposed biometric materials to Liberia coupled with the insufficiency of the procured materials, the NEC postponed the Voter Registration period from December to March 2023. 

Moreover, instead of a thirty (30) day period during which all the two thousand and eighty (2080) precincts across the Country could be opened at once as was done with previous Voter registration exercises in Liberia, the NEC unilaterally reduced the number of days for the Voter Registration to twenty-one (21) days per partitioned area. 

The decision to partition the Country will enable the NEC to rotate the so-called biometric voter registration materials from one partitioned area under Phase 1 to the second partitioned area under Phase 2. 

This decision has the potential to disenfranchise many Liberians in the face of the limited awareness that attended the prelude to the so-called biometric voter registration process. Through these actions, the NEC is engaged in a dangerous corrupt scheme that is detrimental to the peace and stability of Liberia. 

Indeed, the National Elections Commission has demonstrated through its actions over the past years as is being manifested in the unfolding Voter Registration process, that it is the greatest threat to the conduct of free, fair, and transparent Elections come October 2023.

To ensure free, fair, and transparent Elections, it is important that the International Community through the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, the African Union, and the Economic Community of West- African States (ECOWAS) take over the operations of the Data Center at the NEC by the deployment of International IT technicians for the conduct of the pending Presidential and Legislative Elections in Liberia. 

A crucial part of the term of reference of these international staff would be the recruitment of individuals based on merit and professionalism to serve as Data Entry Clerks to ensure transparent tabulation of results during the conduct of the pending Elections of October 2023.


The Center for Development and Election management is a newly established non-government organization dedicated to the service of the people in Liberia. The Center was established in June 2019 by a group of Liberians from diverse cultural and professional backgrounds, and is duly registered under the laws of Liberia.

James M. Fromayan

Director General 

Monrovia, Liberia  

April 25, 2023