LIBERIA: ECC Lauds NEC For Phase Two BVR Registration, Releases Preliminary Update And Findings

The Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) says registration procedures improved during the Phase Two of the BVR process, as it releases its preliminary update and findings.

According to the ECC’s observation, update and findings, the malfunctioning of equipment still persisted during the Phase Two of the Biometric Voter Registration process executed by the National Elections Commission (NEC).

The institution noted that its preliminary update released on Tuesday, May 16, 2023, covers findings from 184 reports over five days of deployment from April 21-May 9, 2023.

The ECC added that the update also contains critical incidents observed and recommendations to improve the process.

However, the ECC indicated that it observed that registration centers generally opened on schedule during Phase Two of the BVR process and with the necessary BVR kits available.

It stressed that despite this, several of the centers observed continued to experience malfunctioning of equipment.

“ECC observers however, noted an improvement in the way NEC registration staff requested verification of eligibility prior to enrolling applicants during phase two. While the ECC recommended an increase in security presence at registration centers to cover phase two of the BVR, a relatively low security deployment was again observed, even though slightly higher than phase one,” the release quotes.

According to the Committee, political party representatives were present to observe the procedure in 131 of the 180 centers that the ECC observed, something it said is also an improvement over Phase One.

At the same time, the Elections Coordinating Committee added that voter trucking was observed during Phase Two.

On the preliminary findings, the ECC said its preliminary findings focus on key issues observed over the period of April 21 to May 9, 2023.

According to the Committee, observers covered the entire process of registration from set-up to closing of centers, noting that during this period, several observations were made.

The ECC observed that 160 of the 185 centers opened on schedule between 8:00 am and 8:30 am, which is 86% of all the centers, adding that only, 11% of these centers opened after 8:30 a.m. as a result of the late arrival of staff, the lack of ink for the printer, shortage of cards, or a lack of electricity to power the equipment.

The ECC averred that during set-up, BVR centers were seen to have a complete BVR kit available, saying these centers were generally accessible, that is applicants did not have to go upstairs to access the center.

According to observers’ accounts 131 of 183 centers were accessible to everyone, including those with special needs or disabilities.

It stressed that the use of canopies or tents on election day is highly encouraged to improve upon this strategy to facilitate easy accessibility for people with special needs.

Also commenting on BVR equipment functionality, the ECC said in 55 of 182 centers it observed the equipment malfunctioned but was swiftly fixed, adding that the malfunctioning equipment in 14 centers resulted in significant delays.

At the same time, regarding applications of registration procedures, the Elections Coordinating Committee noticed an improvement in the way NEC registration staff requested verification of eligibility prior to enrolling applicants during Phase Two.

It said in 153 of 181 centers, applicants were required to present identification to prove their eligibility to register (often a former voter registration card), and in 178 of 182 centers, applicants’ fingertips were marked with the permanent ink once they successfully registered.

Commenting on the closing in general, the ECC observers reported that applicants in line at 5:00 pm were permitted to register before centers closed for the day.

In respect to security, the ECC noted that while it recommended a stronger security deployment to cover Phase Two of the BVR, a relatively low security deployment was again observed, even though slightly higher than phase one.

It indicated that 107 of 185 centers observed were reported to have uniformed security personnel present throughout the day.

At the same time, the ECC noted that political party representatives were present to observe the procedure in 131 of the 180 centers that the ECC observed, which is an improvement over phase one.

However, the Committee said when it comes to high agent deployment, the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and the Unity Party (UP), continue to hold the top spots.

Also commenting on the BVR challenges and critical incidents, the ECC said equipment failure and cases of voter trucking by aspirants were still notable challenges and occurrences reported by ECC observers during Phase Two.

The Elections Coordinating Committee further named the failure to present printed voter registration cards to processed applicants due to card shortages or printer malfunction and failure to complete rejection forms for those who were turned down.

Additionally, the Committee stressed that there were instances of the voter registration process being interrupted at a few locations due to disturbances made by either party supporters or regular applicants.

The Elections Coordinating Committee said during the observed period, it received reports of critical incidents involving equipment failure or malfunction and shortage in BVR cards.

This, the ECC believed caused the process to be significantly delayed in some cases and shut down for the full day in others, adding that the affected centers’ names, area codes, and locations are listed below:

“Bong electoral district 01-Palala Public School with center code 06046;

Bong electoral district 02-MD Massaquoi high school with code 06238;

Bong electoral district 06-Martha Tubman School with code: 06026;

Bong electoral district 07-Kristen Marie high school with center code 06170

Lofa electoral district 01- Fassapoe town hall, Foya with center code 21020;

Nimba electoral district 08-Kpoahpa When ten Public School with center code 33181;

Voter trucking: Applicants were seen being trucked for the BVR phase two in the counties of Bong, Lofa, Nimba, and Grand Kru, according to ECC observers. Since the start of BVR phase two, candidates have engaged in open voter trucking, and neither the NEC nor the Ministry of Justice has taken any action to stop this serious electoral violation. Below are documented instances of trucking reported by ECC observers,”

The ECC observed that Lofa electoral district 01- Foya, at Sengar Palava hut with center code 21083, the trucking of voters to the registration center was orchestrated by Representative Thomas P. Fallah.

It ades that the group was intercepted by citizens who attempted to stop them from registering, which interfered with the registration process.

The Committee noted that Bong electoral district 03- Meleki Town hall with center code 06085, motorbikes and Kehkeh were seen transporting applicants to the registration center.

The ECC observer received reports that this act was being financed by Representative Melvin Cole office in Monrovia.

Nimba electoral district 05:

Accordingly, aspirant James Somah, was reported to have trucked applicants in a pickup from Ganta district 1 to Yao Lehpula, district 5 which resulted in a tragic motor accident leading to death of atleast three persons, leaving several wounded.

It added that Nimba electoral district 07- It was reported that aspirant Musa Bility was involved with trucking of applicants to Saclepea who were non-inhabitants.

Grand Kru County.

The ECC stressed that it received reports of Electoral district 01 candidate Alfred Boe and Senate Pro-Tempore Albert Chea being allegedly involved with voter trucking in Grand Kru from Maryland and other areas of the country.

Moreover, reports of applicants’ registration who are thought to be juveniles or underage have been verified and confirmed by ECC observers within Grand Kru.

The Committee noted that the Lutheran Church, with center code 18018, as well as others in the county, have been impacted by such incidents, adding that testimonies of these children’s parents, who served as witnesses and attested to their eligibility as required by the NEC’s Regulation, led to the incidents.

The Committee averred that the NEC Magistrate issued additional instructions to registrars, instructing them to ask parents who visit the facility to certify the age of their children to sign a bond before proceeding with the registration in order to regulate the situation.

Meanwhile, the Elections Coordinating Committee has provided several recommendations to be considered by the National Elections Commission.

The ECC called on the NEC to extend the registration period for at least a week in areas where registration was delayed due to the malfunctioning of equipment, something it said will compensate for the loss of time.

In order to increase transparency, ECC requests that the NEC make arrangements for the attendance of political parties and local, national, and international observers during the downloading of phase two data.

It wants the NEC alert the public to the timing of the release of phase two preliminary results

Lastly, the NEC is encouraged to equally publish the phase two results disaggregated by electoral districts.

At the same time, the Committee advised political parties and aspirants to lodge a formal complaint with the NEC if they have concerns about phase two or the outcomes of the process.

The ECC also wants the agents of political parties continue to observe the remaining electoral processes to enable their confidence in the electoral outcome.

Security

It stressed that the security forces should investigate and apprehend individuals responsible for the trucking of voters and ensure that they are accorded due process in keeping with the law.

“ECC Observation & Deployment Methodology

On April 21, 2023, ECC began observation in the 37 electoral districts and all nine counties[1]of phase two of the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR). 37 of the 49 long-term observers that ECC trained and sent out were stationed observers at particular voter registration locations within their respective districts. To witness the objections and appeals procedures, ECC observers were also present at the NEC Magistrate offices,” the update indicated.

The BVR process has been observed by the ECC using both stationary and mobile observation methodologies.

County coordinators and district observers were deployed by ECC as stationary observers for the BVR observation.

The Committee said county coordinators monitored the objection and appeal procedures related to voter registration at the National Elections Commission (NEC) magisterial offices, while its (ECC’s) district observers monitor designated voter registration centers.

The Committee added that during the whole voter registration period, county coordinators observed for eight days (8) and electoral district observers for six days (6) at their designated locations, noting that on each day of the deployment, observers submitted a report using a thorough checklist, followed by any critical incidents they may have seen.

On mobile observation, the ECC all of its county coordinators and district observers were also charged to roam within their respective counties and districts during non-stationary days, reporting any critical incidents observed.

This, the Committee said indicates that in addition to the 184 centers covered, ECC observers were able to collect information from other areas of their respective districts and counties while moving around.

Accordingly, the ECC trained data clerks stationed at the ECC Data Center in Monrovia are responsible to verify and confirm each incident that is reported to the ECC Data Center. Using coded messages, observers’ reports are sent to the ECC reporting system via their mobile phones, where they are later analyzed to create updates.

Visited 194 times, 1 visit(s) today

Comments are closed.