ECC Voter Registration Update #4

Summary

The Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC), a platform of civil society organizations that observes all aspect of elections in Liberia, has deployed observers across the 15 counties to witness the voter registration process. Today we are issuing our fourth update, which follows upon our three previous updates released on the voter registration process. This fourth update covers the end, or final phase, of the voter registration exercise from Friday, March 3rd through Tuesday March 7th. Also, a one day observation was carried out during the one-week extension of the Voter Registration. This observation was carried out on the last day of the extension, Tuesday, March 14.

Overall, reports from ECC observers in all 15 counties during Phase 3 as well as the extension show that while there were some recurring challenges such as problems with camera, there were fewer issues reported than at the beginning and middle of the registration process. Also, political parties deployed more of their representatives to witness the voter registration process a little more than the second phase. ECC Observers continue to report that registration staff appear to be unevenly requiring applicants to provide proof of eligibility.

Methodology

The ECC has deployed 89 total observers – one county coordinator per county for each of the 15 counties (with an additional coordinator for Montserrado County) – and electoral district observer for each of the 73 electoral districts. All ECC observers were carefully selected and thoroughly trained by the ECC as well as accredited by the National Elections Commission (NEC).

All 89 observers were instructed to observe at a single registration center throughout the day on three specific days – Friday, March 3, Monday March 6, and Thursday March 7 – in their assigned county or electoral district. During the extension period, ECC observers also deployed to observer the last day of registration on Tuesday March 14.  On each observation day, every observer sent in four observation reports based on a comprehensive checklist via coded text message using their mobile phones to the ECC’s Information Center (ECC-IC).

The ECC received a total of 257 reports from its observers during this third phase of voter registration with reports being sent in from all 15 counties. Like the second phase, all ECC Observers were permitted to observe. During the last day of registration (March 14), the ECC received 86 reports with reports being sent in from all 15 counties. (See Table 1).

Phase 3 Findings

The ECC’s Voter Registration Update #4 provides comprehensive information on reports from the ECC’s observers during the third and final phase of the voter registration exercise (March 3 to 7).

Phase 3 Setup (see Table 2)
During Phase 3, ECC observers reported that only one registration centers did not open due to equipment failure.

  • Overall 205 of 257 registration centers opened by 8:00 am;

ECC observers reported that generally registration centers had the required staff and nearly all registration centers had all the required materials.

  • 217 of 256 registration centers had four registration staff at opening;
  • 72 of 256 registration centers had a female registrar;
  • 255 of 256 registration centers had optical mark recognition (OMR) registration forms; and
  • 256 of 256 registration centers had indelible ink.

As during Phase 2, ECC observer reports show a continued low presence of uniformed security personnel at registration centers. However, political party representatives were deployed to a few more centers than observed in Phase 2 (see Chart 1):

  • 45 of 256 registration centers had uniform security personnel; and
  • 159 of 256 registration centers had representatives of any political party.

Finally, ECC observers reported that at 19 of 256 registration centers applicants were required to go upstairs to register – which potentially poses a problem for some persons with disabilities.

Phase 3 Registration Procedures (see Table 3)

Once centers were open, registration procedures were generally followed:

  • At 238 of 256 registration centers, persons with disabilities, the elderly, and pregnant women were allowed to register before other applicants;
  • At 244 of 256 registration centers, an optical mark recognition (OMR) registration form was completed for every successful applicant; and
  • At 248 of 256 registration centers, every successful applicant had his/her finger marked with indelible ink;

However, applicants were not systematically being asked to show proof of eligibility.

  • At 119 of 256 registration centers, every applicant was asked to show proof of his/her eligibility; and
  • At 156 of 256 registration center, applicants were asked to provide any evidence that they ordinarily resided in the locality.

ECC observers reported challenges with cameras in some places during registration, but observed fewer instances of such problems than during Phase 2:

  • At 14 of 256 registration centers, the camera did NOT work throughout the day; and u At 2 of 256 registration centers, the camera did NOT take good quality photographs.

At 9 of 256 registration centers, ECC observers reported that the center was closed for more than an hour for lunch and at 8 of 256 registration centers the center closed before 4:00 pm.

Phase 3 Registration Figures (see Table 4)
ECC observers witnessed 7,935 applicants successfully register, an average of 31 successful registrants per center based on 256 reports. This is a reduction from both Phase 1 and Phase 2 (see Chart 3)

  • Friday March 3 – 2,832  successful registrants at 85 centers for an average of 33 successful registrants;
  • Monday March 6 – 2,940 successful registrants at 86 centers for an average of 34 successful registrants; and
  • Tuesday March 7 -– 2,163 successful registrants at 85 centers for an average of 25 successful registrants.

A total of 3,549 women successfully registered at 256 centers for an average of 14 women successful registrants. Women represent 45% of successful registrants observed by the ECC. This is a slight decrease from the second phase when women represented 47% of successful registrants, but still more than the first phase when women represented 43% of successful registrants observed by the ECC.

Finally, there were 109 spoiled OMR registration forms at the 256 centers for an average of less than 1 spoiled forms per center. This is consistent with Phase 2 and a significant decrease from Phase 1 when a total of 690 spoiled OMR registration forms were reported (or an average of 1 spoiled form per center).

Phase 3 Critical Incidents

ECC observers were instructed to immediately report any serious problems that could compromise the conduct of the voter registration process. Critical incidents that were reported by ECC observers were related to the late opening of registration centers and the failure of camera’s to work throughout the day resulting in the suspension of registration.

A total of 12 critical incidents were reported by ECC observers from March 3 to 7. Critical incidents of note that were directly observed by ECC observers include:

  • Fewer instances of registration centers opening after 10:00 am or never opening.
  • Fewer instances when registration was suspended due to equipment failure such as cameras mal-function and solar panel dysfunction.

Observation of the Extension Period (March 14)

Following the NEC’s declaration that the voter registration should be extended by one week, ECC observers also observed voter registration centers on Tuesday March 14, the final day of registration. By and large, the observation findings for this day were similar to those seen in Phase 3. All 86 of the voter registration centers visited by ECC observers were open, and only three centers reported problems with malfunctioning cameras. One observer was not permitted to observe. ECC observers witnessed 2,253 applicants successfully register, an average of 27 successful registrants per center based on 84 reports. This is slight decrease from Phase 3, when the average was 31 successful registrants per center based on the 256 reports received by the ECC (see Chart 2).

Conclusion
Overall, reports from ECC observers in all 15 counties during Phase 3 as well as the extension show that while there were some recurring challenges such as problems with camera, there were fewer issues reported than at the beginning and middle of the registration process. Also, political parties still deployed more of their representatives to witness the voter registration process a little more than the second phase. ECC Observers continued to report that registration staff appeared to be unevenly requiring applicants to provide proof of eligibility. The ECC has also released comprehensive findings and recommendations in its final report on its observation of the 2017 voter registration process.

Download pdf version here: ECC Voter Registration Update #4