Recent pronouncement made by the Chairman of the National Elections Commission (NEC), Cllr. Jerome Korkoya that everyone with a valid voter registration card will be allowed to partake in the upcoming October elections continues to cast a cloud of doubt over the electoral process as concerns in the public increase over how transparent the process would be.
Their argument is from the backdrop that the registration process was marred by several irregularities especially with registration taking place in private homes—and some of these individuals were arrested and registration materials seized.
The area of contention is that if indeed everyone with a valid voter card, including those that registered at private centers, are to be allowed to vote as the NEC’s Chairman has indicated—what would be the transparency in the electoral process?
It is in this regard that the Election Coordinating Committee (ECC), an election monitoring group, is calling on the NEC to make available its electronic voter list to relevant partners in an effort to ensure transparency in the process.
“We are calling on the NEC to share electronic voter list with observer groups for independent analysis,” Chairman of the Steering Committee of the ECC, Oscar Bloh, said in a release on Monday in Monrovia.
In the release, the ECC shared its findings on the observation of the Exhibition based on 209 reports from its 73 trained and accredited observers located in all 15 counties.
“Overall, reports from ECC observers from all 15 counties show that exhibition of the Provisional Registration Roll (PRR) happened across the country from June 12-17, 2017,” Oscar Bloh stated. “The ECC observers reported that few citizens visited exhibition centers to check their information on the PRR. In addition, few agents of political parties deployed to exhibition centers to scrutinize the PRR. Of the 207 centers observed by the ECC, 465 claims were filed for inclusion, 168 claims were filed for missing/incorrect photos, 451 claims were filed for correction of information and 50 challenges to inclusion filed; the ECC also collected anecdotal evidence of names and photos missing from PRRs in some centers”
He added, “In some instances, significant numbers of names were missing. For example, in Margibi Dist. # 5 (Center code: 24073, Rock International) 426 names were missing, Rivercess Dist. # 2 (Center code: 36012, Yakpa Town) 200 names missing, Margibi Dist. # 3 (Center code: 24127, Asaru Islamic School) 300 names missing, etc. At the same time, the ECC commends the NEC for providing information on the number of registered voters who are missing from the PRR. However, the NEC should provide what plans are in place to ensure legitimately registered voters are not disenfranchised. Also, an electronic version of the updated PRR should be provided to observer groups to enable independent analysis of the list.”
On the pace of the exhibition, Bloh stated that, “At the exhibition centers where ECC observers were deployed, 9,258 people visited to check their information on the PRR, to verify their information based on 206 reports received. Of the 9,258, (43%) were women.
The number of visitors was lowest at the beginning of the exhibition period (Monday, June 12) and highest at the end of the exhibition period (Saturday, June 17).
To further boost the credibility of the final voter list, ECC Steering Committee Member Victoria Wollie called upon the NEC to ensure that in the soonest possible time, should provide information to the public to address concerns that a number of voters’ names did not appear on the PRR and their plans to remedy the issue.
The ECC is concerned with the low level of participation by political parties in the exhibition process. Similarly, the ECC is also concerned about the low turnout of citizens to review the PRR coupled with the fact that there are missing names and photos; and if these problems are not addressed, could have consequences on Election Day.
ECC calls on the NEC to provide regular information to the public on how they’re dealing with the issue of missing names and photos.
The ECC is concerned with the low level of participation by political parties in the exhibition process. Parties have a critical role to play in ensuring a credible registration roll. The ECC therefore, calls on all political parties to demonstrate interest and increase their participation in contributing to a credible voter list and the remaining activities of the electoral process.
For future exhibition exercise, the ECC suggests that NEC should provide information to civil society observation groups and international Election Partners concerning mistakes and challenges with the PRR and collectively find appropriate solutions to remedy them.
The National Election Commission has assured Liberians carrying legitimate voters registration cards full participation in the electioneering process.
The Commission’s comment comes in the wake of fear by some citizens who are raising alarms that their names and photos are not on the voters’ roll exhibition.
At a News Conference Wednesday June 14, 2017 Chairman Jerome Korkoya called on people in such situations to visit the various polling centers to have their names and photos taken to be placed in the data base.
Mr. Korkoya: “People with the issue of unavailability of photos during these exhibition periods should go to the various magistrates for photo taking and every Liberian who has voter card will vote. The errors wouldn’t affect you.”
“There is nothing to be worried about. People should stop creating unnecessary alarm.”
The National Elections Commission (NEC) on June 12, 2017 commenced the Exhibition of the Provisional Voter Roll at all 2080 Exhibition Centers (formerly Voter Registration Centers) across the country.
The exercise is a cardinal electoral date as per Article 9.2 of the Voter Registration Regulations and in keeping with section 3.6 of the New Elections Law of Liberia.
The Provisional Registration Roll is a compilation of names, photos, center codes, ages, among others of individuals who registered during the voter registration from February 1 to March 14, 2017.
The key exhibition activities include confirmation of applicant’s information, inclusion, where the opportunity is given to an applicant or registrant to be included on the Provisional Registration Roll if erroneously omitted, among others.
On the issue of election violation through pre-campaigning he said, the NEC has not called out any electoral violation as far as the commission is concerned. Instead, Mr. Korkoya said, “We have some of the best political parties in Liberia they have tried their best to respect the laws.”