The National Elections Commission (NEC) must address the need for a more effective mechanism to verify the 2017 voter rolls to build confidence in the transparency of the impending Presidential and General Elections, the Governance Commission (GC) has said.
The Commission, in its 2016 annual report on Liberia’s electoral system for 2017 released recently, noted the “very close similarity” between the 2005 and 2011 cards and, therefore, the need to ensure distinctiveness of the 2017 card.
The Commission indicated that a good number of complaints brought against the election magistrates, and by extension NEC itself, were based on distrust of the integrity of the voter rolls.
In a dialogue with political parties held in 2015 following the 2014 Special Senatorial Elections, the Commission noted that political parties underscored a concern about the quality and integrity of the voter rolls.
The first contention was that NEC cannot objectively verify the 500 qualified voters and that it requires political parties to have members in each of six counties. Thus, duplications and manipulations can occur, it stated.
According to the Commission, NEC also lacks the capacity to verify the voter roll generally and consequently, lacks the capacity to detect and prevent many cases of fraud in membership claims as well as in eligibility of a voter.
“Hence, some political leaders are already skeptical about how authentic a 2017 voter roll will be as a related problem about the voter rolls relates to the quality of the voter registration card,” the Commission emphasized.
Meanwhile, the Commission in the report stated that the fraudulent act of trucking of voters across constituencies and sometimes national boundaries is also considered a link to the challenge of authenticating the voter rolls, the quality of voter cards and other capacity deficits of NEC.
It pointed out that some observers have stressed the need to perfect a residency address system in Liberia, but more importantly, the developing a biometric national identification system.
As a consequence of the inability to authenticate voter rolls, the Commission continued, the concerns about trucking of voters across constituencies and across national borders will become a contentious issue that needs to be addressed before the 2017 elections.