Technical report declares Liberia’s biometric voter registration exercise a success
The Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC), a civil society organization working for the promotion of electoral integrity in Liberia and good governance, has concluded that the first-ever biometric voter registration (BVR) in the country, which unfolded early this year, was largely successful and peaceful despite a few challenges.
In a 27-page technical report which details the entire BVR process, the ECC also notes that dividing the biometrics enrollment into two phases afforded the National Elections Commission (NEC) the opportunity to learn from the shortcomings of the first, and improve things in the second.
The BVR in Liberia took place between March and May 2023 and was plagued by a number of problems including complaints of disenfranchisement due to the limited timeframe and staff incompetence, as well as failures of some of the biometric kits supplied by Laxton. The commencement of the registration process was also delayed by the NEC.
“The malfunctioning of some of the equipment and the shortage of materials were observed but these challenges did not undermine the overall quality of the product. There were no systematic attempts by the NEC to deny any particular group of citizens their right to register in order to vote,” reads a portion of the report’s executive summary.
The ECC says while it observed that political party representatives showed up at registration centers to see how it unfolded, there was a low-level representation of security agencies at enrollment venues, which led to “minor incidents of violence.”
Another aspect noted by the ECC report is that the BVR saw the participation of slightly more women than men even as the “country’s legal framework is weak in protecting and promoting women’s political representation in elected offices.”
In other to improve the voter registration process going forward, the organization makes a number of recommendations directed to the NEC, political parties, parliament, election observation groups as well as the media.
“The ECC commends the Liberian people for their enthusiasm and peaceful participation during the voter registration. The ECC further applauds the NEC for conducting the voter registration within the set timeline,” the report concludes.
The report comes as findings of a recent study in July claimed a high level of mistrust in the BVR system in Liberia.