…. “The records are being investigated through the adjudication process and, where warranted, their names will be referred to the Ministry of Justice for prosecution,” Davidetta Browne-Lansanah, the Chairperson of NEC, said.
More than 27,000 Liberians have been identified by the National Elections Commission as having registered twice during the biometric voter registration exercise.
In a report yesterday, the Commission noted that the issues were discovered after the final stage of the deduplication and adjudication of voters’ information collected from 2,080 voter registration centers across the country.
Double registration, which often involves using different names or identities, is illegal in Liberia, seen as voter fraud, and punishable by law.
But for these individuals to be prosecuted, the Commission must not only remove their voter registration identification but also file a complaint with the Ministry of Justice. As it stands, it is currently uncertain whether the electoral body will opt for legal action or deactivate one of the double registrant accounts and let the other stay active, but the Commission is adamant that it will.
“Of the 2,498,904 registrants, a total of 2,471,183 are reported as active registrants, while 27,192 have been flagged as duplicated,” Davidetta Browne-Lansanah, the Chairperson of the Commission, said.
“The records are being investigated through the adjudication process. [And] all ineligible registrants will be removed, and, where warranted, their names will be referred to the Ministry of Justice for prosecution,” Lansanah said.
The discovery of such a huge double registration number comes after the electoral body moved to use biometric equipment for its just-ended voter registration exercise.
According to the Commission, the biometric process was intended to streamline the electoral process and reduce the potential for double registration and other forms of voter fraud after it came under pressure to ditch its optical manual registration (OMR) system.
Many argue that the OMR system does not improve the accountability and transparency of electoral processes and is usually tainted by controversy and mistrust.
The biometric VR system, which is also not a silver bullet according to experts, is seen as a safe route to producing a credible voter roll void of double registration.
Meanwhile, the Commission has also reported on the issues of several cases of underage voter registration that violate the country’s electoral law.
According to the Commission, a total of 529 children were found to have participated in the voter registration process even though they were not of the constitutionally approved age of 18 for participating in public elections.
“With respect to the ongoing investigation of the 529 suspected underage registrants, the Commission remains mindful in addressing the matter, since registrants in this category may be minors and therefore have a heightened degree of privacy under the law,” Lansanah noted.
The Commission has also announced that the exhibition of the provisional registration roll will commence on June 12 -17 across the country.
According to the electoral body, it is vital that the general public bring forward all concerns during the exhibition exercise, saying the roll is being made available for verification, inclusion, and objection.