Mistrust in Liberia’s biometric voter registration system is high, survey claims
Many Liberians believe the newly introduced biometric voter registration (BVR) system may not do much to ensure credible and transparent general elections in the country in October.
This is according to findings contained in a report published by Front Page Africa (FPA). The findings are part of a funded project which sampled the opinions of some Liberians in the Monrovia district to understand what their thoughts are about the novelty in the electoral system.
Liberia introduced a BVR system with kits supplied by Laxton on the argument that it wanted to establish a clean electoral database, which would favor the organization of credible polls. The process to select a firm for the biometric registration contract was lingering and controversial.
One in three persons whose opinions were obtained for the survey said they wouldn’t trust the system given the many problems that characterized the BVR process. A third of the respondents expressed the wish to see the biometric voter registration exercise redone, while one person said they wanted the BVR completely scrapped.
Some of the people interviewed also recounted their personal bitter experiences with the system during voter registration in April and May. The issues, they say, ranged from registration kit failures, long queues, and the inadequate mastery of equipment by enrollment agents, just to name these.
Also, the announcement by the National Elections Commission (NEC) that up to 27,000 cases of double registration were identified during the two voter registration windows, further raised doubts about the ability of the system to provide an acceptable voter’s register, the study notes.
The criticism notwithstanding, the report quotes a local government spokesperson who praised the system as trustworthy. He said all those picking holes in the BVR were trying to undermine it and that they do not mean well for the country.
On the issue of double registration, the NEC said recently that it removed 27,287 registrants from the voter’s roll after finding out that they registered more than once, Daily Observer reports.
The NEC Chairperson Davidetta Browne Lansanah said in a statement that following the deduplication and adjudication process, the number of eligible registered voters now stands at 2,471,617, down from the earlier announced figure of 2,498,904.