All-out mobilization in Liberia ahead of pioneer biometric voter registration exercise
Liberia’s National Elections Commission (NEC) is currently engaged in a number of activities as part of its preparations for the country’s first-ever biometric voter registration process.
Come 20 March, Liberians will for the first time in their history begin registering biometrically for general elections. Voters go to the polls on 10 October to elect a new president and members of the bi-cameral parliament.
Apart from ongoing sensitization campaigns on the importance of voter registration, the NEC is also training some of its staff who will in turn train others on the use of the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) system which is supplied by Laxton Group.
The biometric equipment arrived on February 28, according to The New Dawn.
The election agency has also scheduled a national public dialogue event to explain the importance of the BVR and to build confidence in the electorate.
NEC trains trainers on use of BVR system
Some personnel of the NEC as well as temporary workers hired by the body for the conduct of the BVR will be trained on how to manipulate the biometric registration equipment.
Ahead of this, the NEC is training trainers who will help carry out this activity. The trainers will train personnel in the capital Monrovia and in all the 15 counties of the West African nation.
This, authorities say, is part of efforts to minimize hitches that could mar the enrollment process.
In collaboration with Laxton, the election agency is training 49 employees, according to New Dawn, in a five-day workshop that began on 1 March and will run till 5 March.
In the course of the workshop, Laxton officials have underlined the fact that those handling fingerprint scanners must pay attention to the proper capturing of fingerprints. They have also emphasized the importance of taking photographs of registrants according to standards.
Dialogue to build voter confidence
In a recent press release, NEC also said a national stakeholders’ dialogue for confidence building and continual education on the BVR process will take place on 3 March in six counties.
The event which will take place in Buchanan, Grand Bassa County, will “set forth the platform for Liberians of all walks of life to share notes and get firsthand education on the workings and benefits of the new technology.”
“The Commission will also use the dialogue to explain the step-by-step processes of the BVR, especially for the purposes of attracting the full participation of first-time-voters. The two-day event, the Commission believes, will reduce the falsehoods and misconceptions currently held by some segments of the voting population in the country,” notes the release.
According to the NEC, the new system which is based on fingerprints and face biometrics will make de-duplication easier and will also discourage double registration by unscrupulous citizens.
The six counties concerned with this dialogue are those where the BVR exercise will happen first.
The first phase of the registration will run from 20 March to 9 April, while the second phase which will involve nine counties will take place from 21 April to 11 May, the release recalls.
The stakeholders include representatives of civil society and faith-based organizations, youth organizations, professional and academic institutions, political parties, the Liberia National Police, the Liberia Marketing Association and transport unions. Other attendees are district commissioners, city mayors, and local and traditional leaders, to name these few.
In January, Liberia conducted a mock BVR ahead of the real exercise later this month.