MONROVIA – Provisional results from Phase One of the ongoing Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) conducted in six counties which ended on April 9, 2023 point to an upbeat outlook of the exercise, with a total of 1,435,209 eligible voters successfully going through the BVR.
According to the National Elections Commission (NEC) latest update on the BVR provided by Madam Davidetta Brown-Lansanah when she addressed stakeholders on Monday, April 17, 2023 at the NEC’s 9th Street Sinkor headquarters in Monrovia, out of the total 1.4M registrants, 711,410 are female, while 723,799 are males. “This figure is subject to change due to the ongoing deduplication and adjudication process,” the NEC boss said.
Deduplication and adjudication of the voter registration records from the six counties in Phase One has accordingly begun at the Data Center. The exercise, NEC says, is aimed at removing all instances of multiple registration and other data cleaning processes.
“The Commission has opened its doors to all observers and stakeholders, including political party technicians that are duly accredited by the NEC to observe the deduplication and adjudication process,” Madam Lansanah stated.
The preliminary results from Phase One of the BVR exercise shows that 891,201 voters registered in Montserrado County, while 184,425 voters registered in Margibi County, followed by Grand Bassa County where 157,712 voters were registered.
As for Grand Cape Mount County, 89,589 voters were registered, while Bomi and Gbarpolu saw 64,395 and 50,887 voters being respectively registered.
Following the end of Phase One on April 9, the NEC immediately commenced the retrieval of BVR equipment and materials to NEC Headquarters, which was accordingly completed on 11 April 2023.
“As the equipment were being received in the NEC Headquarters Warehouse, they were being serviced and reconfigured for redeployment in Phase Two counties of Bong, Grand Gedeh, Grand Kru, Lofa, Maryland, Nimba, River Gee, River Cess and Sinoe.
“As with the introduction of every technology, it is not unusual for glitches and other challenges at the initial stages of using new machines to conduct the process, and we had quite a few. In order to address potential glitches in the second phase, the Commission on 13 April held a one-day internal lessons learnt workshop to understand the challenges that were encountered in Phase One, such as improper connection and powering of the equipment, BVR centers ownership, timing of meal allowance payment, logistics, etc. Having identified the root causes of the challenges, the NEC is taking remedial actions to better the second phase,” Madam Lasannah stated.
Phase Two Commences
Meanwhile, the National Elections Commission on Saturday, 15 April launched the Civic and Voter Education (CVE) campaign for Phase Twoof the BVR exercise which commences 21 April and ends on 11 May. While the main launch was done in Ganta City, Nimba County, there were simultaneous sub launches at the 12 local magisterial offices in the nine Phase Two counties inclusive of Bong, Grand Gedeh, Grand Kru, Lofa, Maryland, Nimba, River Gee, River Cess and Sinoe Counties.
Members of the Board of Commissioners, senior level staff including election magistrates, local government officials, civil society, women, youths and people living with disabilities participated in the CVE launch across the country.
Deployment of BVR kits to the Phase Two Counties commenced on Sunday, 16 April and as at 01:00 this morning, 17 April, all BVR Kits and materials had left NEC Headquarters Warehouse for their respective destinations in central, north and southeastern Liberia, the NEC stated.
“The Commission urges eligible Liberians in Phase Two to be ready to register in the nine counties of Bong, Grand Gedeh, Grand Kru, Lofa, Maryland, Nimba, River Gee, River Cess and Sinoe. The NEC also encourages the use of the online Personal Data Entry application as an optional means of entering would be registrants’ data. This will help to fast track the completion of their registration at the registration centers where their thumb prints will be captured, photos taken and ID cards issued.
“At the same time, the Commission advises Liberians 18 years and above not to attempt to register more than once. It is a crime to engage in multiple registration and all perpetrators will be caught by the BVR system and turned over to the Justice Ministry for prosecution. Besides, such multiple registrants will be automatically deactivated by the BVR system. In other words, you could lose the opportunity to exercise your franchise during the 10 October 2023 General Elections.
Supporting the Process
The conduct of national elections is always resource-consuming. To this end, the National Elections Commission has acknowledged the support from national government and development partners such as United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
“With respect to funding the 2023 General Elections, in the Elections Budget for the Year 2022, the GOL appropriated and approved the amount of US$20,000,000.00 (Twenty Million Dollars) for the NEC. In the Budget Year for 2023, the GOL appropriated and approved the amount US$33 Million for the NEC, bringing the total budget for the two budget years to US$53 Million.
“To date, the MFDP has disbursed the amount of US$27.5 Million, out of the US$53,000,000.00, leaving a balance of US$25.5 Million,” the NEC stated.
“Meanwhile, the Commission informs temporary staff of Phase One that the payment of their honorarium begins today, 17 April 2023 based on the contractual arrangement.
“Finally, the Commission extends its thanks and appreciation to the people of Liberia for the great interest they have in the conduct of biometric voter registration in Liberia. This is indicative in the high turnout during the first phase and the support that field staff received from many owners of properties that ensured the positioning and safety of our staff and BVR equipment in the field. We also want to extend thanks and appreciation to the international community including observers for the feedback that the Commission has been receiving on the BR process. We also extend our thanks to the Ministry of Justice through its agencies, including the LNP, LIS, etc. that are working to ensure a violent-free process. The Commission extends thanks to the NEC staff for their diligence in support of a smooth BVR process.
“We say thank you to Liberians in general for their many mobile calls where issues with the conduct of the BVR process have been reported to the Commission.
The Commission assures all Liberians, all stakeholders and electoral actors that the NEC will continue to work with you to the successful conclusion of the BVR process,” the NEC stated.