Liberia: NEC Says Biometric Voter Registration Process on Course
The National Elections Commission has disclosed that phased one of biometric voter registration exercises would go on as planned.
The electoral body's clarification comes after complaints about not receiving all of the funding required to conduct the voter registration process. This then raised concerns that the NEC would be forced to postpone the start of the voter registration as scheduled from March 20 to April 9.
However, NEC Chairperson Davidetta Browne Lansanah dismissed such fears, claiming progress has been made "in preparation for the scheduled commencement of the voter registration process.”
“A 5-day training of electoral supervisors has started, while training of 3,195 voter registration staff convenes today and ends on March 17. Also, the locations of voter registration centres in phase one counties had been published in keeping with Section 3.2 of the New Elections Law,” Lansanah said.
“NEC has also conducted several mock demonstrations of the biometric voters registration exercise for the Liberia Marketing Association, political parties and civil society and that a 20-man technical team from LAXTON Group, headed by Daniel Engelbrecht, is currently in the country to assist NEC with training, logistics, and preparations for the arrival of equipment and other BVR materials and the setting up of the server in the Data Center of NEC.”
The NEC move to biometric registration comes as the electoral body has been under pressure to dash its optical manual registration (OMR) system. The OMR system, for many, does not improve the accountability and transparency of electoral processes since the final voter roll is usually tainted by controversy and mistrust.
The biometric system however if properly used would help NEC for the first time secure voter rolls and the integrity of the elections process: fending off any issues of deduplication, which has in time passed been a major problem for elections in Liberia.
However, the NEChas not yet addressed whether the more than 20,000 polling stations in the country will be interconnected to share registration centres to close any room for double voting during elections. This silence has been so since the Commission announced its intention in 2022 to use biometric systems for the March 20 voter registration exercise.
Lansanah noted that civic and voter Education (CVE) activities for the voter registration have been ongoing in the six phase one counties since its launch on February 24.
“To mitigate risks and challenges associated with the BRV exercise, the NEC Chairperson challenged all stakeholders to effectively play their role by avoiding spreading fake news, misinformation, and disinformation in order to ensure that the transition to BVR is successful.”
Meanwhile, the first phase of the biometric voter registration exercise is expected to kick off in Bomi, Grand Cape Mount, Grand Bassa, Gbarpolu, Margibi and Montserrado counties.