Since the voter registration (VR) was launched on February 1, the process has been marred by a barrage of irregularities ranging from misspelling of potential voters’ names to malfunctioning equipment and the “trucking” of eligible voters.
The VR problems have now caught the attention of the Independent National Commission on Human Rights (INCHR) which said in a statement, that it is deeply concerned and worried about the waves of irregularities and other irregularities surrounding the VR process at various registration centers.
Specifically, the INCHR said it has observed with grave concern the lack of logistics, abandonment of centers due to untimely payment of stipend to VR registration workers, insufficient registration centers and lack of security personnel in electoral districts #11, #15, #17, #5 and several other centers in
Montserrado County as well as Grand Kru, Lofa, Nimba, Maryland, Bong and Grand Gedeh counties.
“We have also observed that cameras, scanners and other equipment assigned to these centers to identify and prevent electoral fraud are malfunctioning, thereby either slowing down the registration or completely halting the process,” Commissioner James D. Torh said in a release.
“The magnitude of these limitations,” the INCHR release said, “seriously challenges the resolve of Liberians and this government to ensure free, fair and transparent elections is held where every Liberian is afforded equal access, opportunity and space to exercise their political rights.”
Another organization that raised similar concerns recently was the Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC), which spoke of similar irregularities the VR process has encountered.
The ECC spoke on the issues at a news conference in Monrovia where it also made mention of late arrival of staff at registration centers, miss-location of registration centers, misspelling of the names of registrants, defective cameras, and lack of security officers at registration centers.
“Overall reports from the ECC observers across all 15 sub-political divisions (say) there have been challenges such as some centers not opening or issues with the cameras, but these have not been widespread,” said head of ECC’s Steering Committee, Oscar Bloh.
Meanwhile, the INCHR strongly reaffirmed its commitment to promote human rights during the electoral processes and called on the government to expeditiously provide the necessary support to NEC to avert undue derailment of public trust in the upcoming elections.
The INCHR is also calling on all eligible Liberians to register and report all and any behaviors inconsistent with the VR guidelines.