An ex-official of the National Elections Commission (NEC) who recently called for the resignation of the chairman for ‘incompetence’ has declared that the 2.1 million of the country’s population registered by the commission does not represent the actual voters of the country.
Speaking in an interview with New Democrat, Josiah Joekai, a former Special Assistant to the Chairman of NEC also called for the resignation of the Chairman of NEC Cllr. Jerome Korkoya as a means of conducting a credible election.
“Replace Chairman Jerome G. Korkoya with Commissioner Jonathan K. Weedor or Jeanette Ebba-Davidson who are the longest serving and most knowledgeable Commissioners currently serving on the Board (i. e. the Commission). They are capable of presiding over the conduct of a runoff election that will be deemed credible” he said.
The former NEC official said the creation of a separate roll that can only be accessed through a Short Message System (SMS) managed and operated by the NEC alone was the basis for serious confusion during the October 10, 2017 elections.
He said here were many voters whose particulars were confirmed using the SMS but omitted from the FRR as experienced on Election Day. This situation again he added contributed to illegal voting as some voters in this category were allowed to vote but with their names written on addenda. Others were simply denied because of the omission of their particulars.
He added that one could only imagine in rural areas where illiterate voters did not have access to the technology to verify their particulars; they were prevented from exercising their democratic franchise.
He observed that the voters’ roll has several duplicate names due to the registration of individuals multiple times by the NEC during the voters registration exercise which led to the circulation of several illegal voter registration cards. This created a floodgate for the illegal voting that took place on October 10, 2017.
MR. Joekei also observed that the Voters Roll (Final Registration Roll) lacks the credibility to be used for the conduct of the impending Presidential Runoff Election.
“It is now established that the current voters roll which is the Final Registration Roll (FRR) has serious problems and therefore, must not be used for the conduct of the ensuing Presidential Runoff Election. The FRR does not account for all registered voters evidenced by the omission of the particulars of several registered voters reported by the National Elections Commission (NEC) itself and other professional data analysts. The NEC itself has denied this fact. More so, Chairman Korkoya is on record for informing the Liberians Senate that there 13000 omissions on the roll. Although this number represents a gross understatement of the fact, Liberians are yet to know whether or not the issue was addressed prior to the elections,” he said.
He said the disorderly conduct of the 2017 voters registration exercise which culminated in a roll that lacks integrity contributed to the reported gross irregularities and fraud which overwhelmed the October 10, 2017 polls.
The voters’ roll he said remains a potential source of electoral fraud; something which could eventually fester conflict. The failure of the current leadership to make appropriate use of the system established by its predecessor has proven counterproductive and the entire country is now confronted by the consequences.
He recommends the following: ECOWAS should deploy counterparts at two levels at the NEC for the joint organization and conduct of the runoff election. Deploy at the NEC for the period of the runoff election, two former chairpersons of Electoral Commissions preferably from Africa (Afari Gyan of Ghana and Christiana Torpe of Sierra Leone) to work directly with the current Board of Commissioners. This is an acceptable practice that has contributed to the conduct of credible elections in Africa. In 2011 through the support of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), the former Chairman of the Ghanaian Electoral Commission, Afari Gyan was a counterpart to Board of Commissioners of the National Elections Commission of Liberia.
Deploy in the NEC Data Center, David Colliee who is a certified Data Software Developer and has diligently served in that capacity during our past two elections. Although he now has an international duty, but I have no doubt that his current employer will spare him few weeks to respond to a call to serve his country in these critical times of our democratic transition. In addition External data developers, managers and analysts (Preferably from South Africa and Ghana) who have worked with our system before should be deployed in the NEC Data Center to oversee the data collection and analysis component of the runoff election.
Do a thorough vetting of NEC poll workers with the aim of replacing those who lack the commitment, capacity and basic understanding of the roles and responsibilities of poll workers.
Clean the voters roll in three weeks to have a credible roll for the runoff election. This process will require running a de-duplication program to rid the roll of all duplicate names. By this action, you will address the duplicate names that have inundated the roll thereby preventing people from voting more than once or multiple times. This same action was effected on the 2011 FRR and the Commission identified and recommended to the Ministry of Justice for removal from the roll and prosecution, 10,468 duplicate names. This is possible.
Abolish the SMS service/program designed and operated by the NEC but include on the roll individuals who legitimately registered once but their particulars were omitted. Maintain and use only the FRR from this process for the conduct of the runoff election.
The NEC has maintained that the elections were credible.