Liberia: National Elections Commission Reverses Stance on Allegations of Underage Voter Registration
Monrovia – The National Elections Commission (NEC) of Liberia has raised eyebrows as it appears to be flip-flopping on its stance regarding the detection of underage children participating in the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) process. Just days after announcing the detection of several underage registrations and vowing to take appropriate action, the NEC now claims that these reports should be treated as allegations requiring further verification.
By Henry Karmo, [email protected]
In a May 21 press statement, the NEC accounced the commencement of the final process of deduplication and adjudication of voters’ information collected from the 2080 voter registration centers across Liberia through its Central Management System (CMS). This followed the completion of data synchronization from the Phase Two Counties.
In that press statement, the NEC stated that “Several duplicates and underage registrations are being detected, and their voter information deactivated until further investigation. All ineligible registrants will be removed and in cases where there is/are alleged criminal motives, referred to the Ministry of Justice for immediate action.”
However, NEC Chairperson, Madam Daviette Brown-Lanssanah, addressed the issue during a news conference held on Thursday at the commission’s headquarters. She emphasized that the claims of underage registrations are yet to be proven and verified by the Commission. While acknowledging the concerns expressed by many Liberians, Madam Brown-Lanssanah stated that the NEC will investigate the matter and take appropriate action based on the findings. She further urged the public to utilize the upcoming Exhibition of the Provisional Registration Roll (PRR) to substantiate any allegations of underage registration.
“We are concerned like everyone else, but at this stage, we consider these reports as suspected cases of underage registration. Once our investigation is complete, we will take the necessary action. However, it is also incumbent upon the public to use the exhibition process to prove these allegations against those who registered underage,” stated the NEC chairperson.
The NEC assured the public that it already possesses the contact information and addresses of those suspected of being underage. Civic Voter Educators will be deployed to communities to provide the necessary information and assist in verifying the age of registered individuals.
During the press conference, the NEC also provided an update on the recently concluded Phase Two of the BVR process in nine counties. A total of 1,033,724 people registered in the aforementioned counties, including Bong County (237,463), Grand Gedeh County (64,061), Grand Kru County (42,729), Lofa County (177,729), Maryland County (69,034), Nimba County (308,421), River Gee County (37,912), River Cess County (40,201), and Sinoe County (56,011).
The NEC clarified that these figures are preliminary and subject to change as the deduplication and adjudication process takes place. The final preliminary results for all fifteen counties of Liberia will be released before the exhibition of the provisional registration roll.
Furthermore, the NEC issued a warning to individuals violating campaign regulations, stating that it is actively documenting such violations. The commission stressed that it takes willful violations seriously and will apply the necessary legal measures. Despite this, some campaign paraphernalia remain in place across the fifteen counties, disregarding the ultimatum issued by the NEC.
Responding to a question about the commission’s financial readiness for the upcoming elections, Madam Brown-Lanssanah denied having all the necessary finances but expressed optimism that payments would be finalized soon. The NEC and the Ministry of Finance are working together to ensure the timely allocation of funds for the successful conduct of the elections.
As Liberia prepares for its upcoming elections, the NEC’s flip-flopping on the issue of underage voter registration has sparked concerns among the public. The commission’s ability to effectively address and prevent such violations will be crucial in maintaining the integrity and fairness of the electoral process.