Monrovia – FrontPageAfrica has obtained a leaked report of the ECOWAS Technical Support team to the National Elections Commission (NEC) that suggests that NEC made several flaws from the onset of the electoral process up to Election Day.
The ECOWAS delegation was headed by Mr. Kwadwa Afari-Gyan, former Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Ghana.
Other members include Engr. Chidi Nwafor, Director, ICT, and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), served as head of Technical Team; Mrs. Abimbola Oladunjoye, Asst. Director, Data Mgt., INEC Nigeria and Mr. Collins Onyemaobi, Database, INEC.
According to the Report, the ECOWAS Technical Team met with only NEC officials including its Chairman, Jerome G. Korkoya, Commissioners Samuel Joe and Boakai Dukuly and Executive Director Lamin Lighe.
The ECOWAS team also met with staff of the NEC data center, the Warehouse, a team of Elections Magistrates and the SMS Consultant.
Experts said that this has serious implications given that NEC did not invite the relevant stakeholders to meet with the ECOWAS team.
It is, however, not clear whether actions by NEC in inviting the ECOWAS team were prudent in the face of the current Supreme Court case regarding the elections.
Voter Roll Disparity
The team’s analysis data provided by NEC reveals discrepancy in the number of registered voters presented to the public by NEC compared to the number found in the system after the clean up exercise which followed the exhibition process.
The report: “Since the Exhibition of the roll was carried out on the 12th of June 2017, the total number of valid registered voters of the team viewed in the database, as at this date was 2,045,483.
This figure conflicts slightly with what NEC declared as the total number on the roll as at the time the Exhibition took place, which was 2,182,956.
Therefore, from our analysis, between the times of the Exhibition, the PRR [Provisional Registration Roll] and declaring the FRR [Final Voter Roll], a total of 138,146 records were added to the voter roll.”
In addition, it was also established through inquiries into the database that a total of 488 records either one or two other records sharing same Voter IDs; 22 of such records appeared three times while 466 appeared twice marking a total of 998 records that do not have distinct Voter ID in the database.
This made the Voter IDs no longer unique, thereby posing a constraint to the database structure.
The embarrassment experienced on October 10 wherein individuals with Voters IDs not being able to locate their polling centers was attributed to the failure of the NEC to have informed voters that their names were removed from certain polling centers and have been retained at some specified centers.
The team observed that those affected by the change of centers were only informed on Election Day.
Despite applauding the innovation of the SMS platform to confirm registrants’ statuses, it was confirmed that 2,183,744 exist in the SMS database of voters which is overstated by 115 as published in the voter roll and also in the database of valid voters.
Voters without Photographs
As part of the team’s analysis of NEC database, it was observed that 1,328 voters on the roll do not have photographs.
NEC explanation to this, according to the report, was that some of the Optical Mark Registration forms were sent to the data center with no pictures on them.
Interestingly, the NEC admitted to registrants who felt being pressured during the registration exercise failed to take photographs due to the malfunctioning of the cameras during the exercise.
Ironically, the ECOWAS team noted that though the existing role is not perfect, it can be used for a credible election, noting no voter was disenfranchised by not having his/her name on the voter roll.
“It is important to reiterate that since the publication of the register of voters on 10th September 2017, there has been no addition to the roll, the date stamps on all the records in the database were verified,” the ECOWAS Report noted.
However, the ECOWAS delegation recommended amongst other things that, a lasting solution to the frequent voter enrollment exercises be sought in having a biometric register during the next election.
The delegation also recommended a halt to the SMS verification platform in the upcoming election, citing the lack of synergy between the voter roll and the database of users in the SMS platform could be misleading and misinterpreted.
“Addition to the Roll should not be used for this forthcoming election, as it has generated a lot of controversies."
"Poll officials and Election Day security staff not saving [serving at] their polling stations should not cast their votes, just for this Election Day."
"Also, those that have their voter cards but did not find their names in the roll should not be allowed to vote."
"The percentage of this set of voters is likely to be small,” the team further recommended.
When contacted late Wednesday evening a senior official at the ECOWAS Office in Monrovia did confirm to this newspaper that indeed an ECOWAS Team comprising the above experts was sent to Liberia to work with the National Elections Commission."
" Our ECOWAS source, who spoke on condition of anonymity as this source wasn’t authorized to speak with the press, could neither authenticate nor deny the leaked report of the team.
However, our source added: “It’s no secret; everyone knows that the October 10 polls were marred by serious challenges, which have made the results of the elections contestable before the Supreme Court.
In order to fix those problems for this and feature elections, the NEC will need all the help from everyone, including ECOWAS."
"So, we have been working with the NEC from the inception of all the processes leading up the October 10 polls.”