ECOWAS Warns NEC Not To Use Addendum List, SMS

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For the pending runoff or rerun presidential vote, the National Elections Commission should not use its flawed SMS verification technology and the widely criticized addendum voters roll adopted and applied on voting day, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has warned.

In its technical assessment report commissioned by NEC and conducted in accordance with ECOWAS’ 2001 protocol on good governance and democracy, the regional elections experts of four outlined anomalies associated with the Cot. 10 polls

The team led by the former chair of the Electoral Commission of Ghana, Dr. Kwadwa Afari Gyan said it observed 1,328 voters on the roll did not have photograph and that after the exhibition NEC deleted 170, 000 voters it suspected were duplicated names. There was no opportunity for the affected persons to face NEC, because the exhibition has ended, they said.

Delayed procurement led to supply of OMR forms (Optical Mark Registration) in batches, distorting the usual practice and final arrangement of sending forms with contiguous voter identification numbers and serial numbers to same centers, the report indicated.

“All through this assignment, the team had as a main focus the determination of the credibility of the voter roll. A credible voter roll is the bedrock of any good election, and it must be inclusive. Once it can be affirmed that voters, were disenfranchised from exercising their right to vote due to the unavailability of their names on the register of voters, then that voter roll cannot be term as credible,” the report said.

“It is important to mention that after the exhibition exercise and before the final roll was produced the data when through some processes and this may have had some significant effect on the voter roll.”

The team: It was reported the scanning of OMR forms was completed just two days to the exhibition, therefore data cleansing could not take place before the exhibition. In addition to this , data processing was still ongoing during the preparation of the pdf registers for display. This therefore means the PRR did not contain names of all intending voters at the time of the display.

‘It was observed that 1,328 voters on the roll did not have photograph. The response given to this was that some OMR forms were brought to the data center with no picture on them. These picture they said may have fallen off in the course of the movement of forms from one location to another. It was also added that there were times some camera malfunctioned during the registration exercise and due to pressure on the registration officials by intending registrants voters, registration continue without captioning photographs.

‘Obviously there is a slight discrepancy between the extent voter roll and the records in the SMS database. This could have created some issues for voters, hence the complaints that NEC is running two voter rolls.

“The use of SMS voter verification system should be stepped down by the commission as it prepares for the forthcoming election. The lack of proper synergy between the voter roll and the database of users in the SMS platform could be misleading and misinterpreted. Stepping down the use of the technology will reduce the tension it has already created amongst Liberians.

‘Addition to the roll form should not be used for this forthcoming election as it has generated a lot of controversies. Polling officials and Election Day security staff not serving at their polling station should not cast their vote just for this election. Also, those that have their voter cards but did not find their names in the roll should not be allowed to vote.”