In April and May this year, NAYMOTE Partners for Democratic Development conducted a public opinion poll on citizens’ perception of the 73 lawmakers of the 53rd Legislature.
Eddie D. Jarwolo told a news conference yesterday in Monrovia that the survey targeted 2, 800 registered voters, with respondents comprising 1, 640 males (57 percent) and 1, 220 females (43 percent) from 20 of the 73 electoral districts in nine of the 15 counties.
The counties are Montserrado, Bong, Margibi, Lofa, Nimba, Bomi, Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount, and Grand Gedeh, from which the survey targeted registered voters.
Mr. Jarwolo said the poll was conducted to understand voters’ perception of lawmakers and issues they want those seeking office to address, as well as to design a civic engagement program.
“With five months to the presidential and legislative elections, the perception of citizens of members of the legislature is negative,” Jarwolo said.
He said 65 percent of the respondents expressed disappointment with the current lawmakers in relation to their functions.
Overall, he said 28 percent of the respondents have a favorable opinion of lawmakers, with seven percent responding “They do not know.”
“Of the respondents, 66 percent said they would vote during the October 10 election, while 34 percent are undecided, with majority of them being women,” the NAYMOTE executive director said.
On security, he said 59 percent of the respondents said they are satisfied with the current security environment as the country goes to elections, but three percent said they are unsure.
“With respect to their development needs, 80 percent of respondents identified education, the economy and health as the most important issues they care about and want political parties or representative candidates to address when they are elected,” Mr. Jarwolo told the crowded news conference.
He said the poll was conducted using a “phone-bank” system of over 9,235 names and contact details of registered voters in the 73 electoral districts.
The 2,680 respondents were randomly selected by eight trained enumerators in random sampling methodology to conduct the survey, he added.
According to Mr. Jarwolo, the 2011 elections witnessed a low turnout in the runoff, during which the retention rate of lawmakers was 34 percent, “meaning that the majority of the representatives who contested for re-election were rejected at the polls by the voters.”
Similarly, Mr. Jarwolo said of the 13 senators who ran in the 2014 special senatorial election, only two were re-elected.
He said with the findings revealing that 65 percent of registered voters are dissatisfied with the performance of the current lawmakers, “they need to do more work to convince the voters that they should be re-elected.”
NAYMOTE promotes citizens’ understanding of the democratic process and the long-term benefits of their participation in the process. Established in 2001 by student leaders and activists, the institution is one of the leading grassroots organizations promoting democracy, peace building, human rights and civic engagement.
The institution has since its inception initiated programs to foster political accountability, by making elected leaders more accessible, responsible and accountable to the electorates. NAYMOTE also seeks to build the capacity of local leaders to be effective in service delivery; increase youth and women’s participation in the decision-making processes and conduct research on citizens’ perceptions on the work of the lawmakers.
NAYMOTE has also produced publications on youth participation in local government, a legislative guide to organize town hall meetings, fostering social accountability and a civic and voter’s education guide.