ECC Voters List Exhibition Update Report (June 28, 2017)

The Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) is a civil society platform, comprising 30 organizations that observes all aspects of the electoral process in Liberia, including the 2017 Presidential and Legislative elections. The ECC has an eight member steering committee with representatives from the Actions for Genuine Democratic Alternatives (AGENDA); Center for Democratic Governance (CDG); Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP); Inter-Religious Council of Liberia (IRCL); Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD); National Youth Movement for Transparent Elections – Partners for Democratic Development (NAYMOTE-PADD); West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP), the Women’s NGO Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL) and the Inter-Religious Council. CDG currently serves as the chair of ECC.

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 exhibition of the voters list. Today we are issuing our first update, which covers the exhibition period from Monday, June 12 through Saturday, June 17. The ECC is also deploying observers to magistrate offices to observe the claims and objections process. The ECC will also release a report at the end of this process.

Overall, reports from ECC electoral district observers from all 15 counties show that the exhibition of the Provisional Registration Roll (PRR) happened across the entire country from June 12-17, 2017. Further, all of the exhibition centers observed by ECC Observers seemed to have at least one of the two key methods of displaying the list, either posted on the wall or booklet.  However, neither citizens nor political parties appeared to take full advantage of the process. Observers recorded very few instances of party agents at the exhibition centers, and the number of citizens that visited the centers were relatively low, although varied county-by-county. Of the people who visited the Exhibition Centers very few filed for inclusion in case of missing information, names or photos. In addition, there were very few challenges to inclusion. Nevertheless, the ECC collected anecdotal evidence of names and photos missing from PRRs in some centers. In some instances, a potentially significant number of names appeared to be missing. In this regard, the ECC appreciates the NEC by sharing with the public that over 13,000 registered voters are missing from the Provisional Registration Roll.  However, the NEC should still provide an explanation of how the information of these registered voters became missing from the list and what plans are in place to ensure legitimately registered voters are not disenfranchised.  Also, an electronic version of the updated PRR should be provided to observer groups to enable independent analysis of the list.

 Methodology

webThe ECC has deployed 73 total observers, one each for the 73 electoral districts. In addition, the ECC deployed 16 county coordinators – one county coordinator per county for each of the 15 counties (with an additional coordinator for Montserrado County) – to monitor emerging issues in their counties. All ECC observers were carefully selected and thoroughly trained by the ECC as well as accredited by the National Elections Commission (NEC).

All 73 district observers were instructed to observe at a single exhibition center throughout the day on three specific days – Monday June 12, Wednesday June 14, and Saturday June 17 – in their assigned electoral districts. 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 207 reports from its observers during the exhibition process with reports being sent in from all 15 counties (see Table 1). Two ECC observers were initially prohibited from observing at exhibition centers because of using the accredited voter registration’s badge. However, after contacting the Magistrate’s office, these observers were permitted to observe.

Findings

The ECC’s Exhibition report provides comprehensive information on reports from the ECC’s observers during the exhibition of the voters list (June 12 – 17).

Setup (see Table 2)

During the exhibition process, all exhibition centers observed by the ECC were open.

  • Overall 170 of 209 exhibition centers opened on time by 8:00 am;

ECC observers reported that generally exhibition centers had the required staff and nearly all exhibition centers had all the required materials. For example,

  • 207 of 209 exhibition centers had an exhibition officer at opening (71 of which were women);
  • 205 of 209 exhibition centers had an exhibition clerk at opening (120 of which were women);
  • 209 of 209 exhibition centers had a copy of the Preliminary Registration Roll (PRR) either posted in the exhibition center or in a booklet.
  • 208 of 209 exhibition centers had copies of the Application for Correction of Registrant’s Record/Inclusion on the PRR form (Form EX-002)
  • 208 of 209 exhibition centers had copies of the Objection to Inclusion form (Form EX-006)

ECC observers found that 54 percent of exhibition officials were men at centers they observed, while 46 percent were women. However, observers found that men were more likely to be Exhibition Officers than women, whereas women were more likely to be Exhibition Clerks (see Chart 1).

As during the voter registration process, ECC observers reported show a low presence of uniformed security personnel at exhibition centers. Whereas political parties deployed representatives in large numbers to monitor the latter half of the voter registration process, there was a low presence of political party representatives at exhibition centers:

  • 8 of 209 exhibition centers had uniformed security personnel; and
  • 19 of 207 exhibition centers had representatives of any political party.

Finally, ECC observers reported that at 15 of 209 exhibition centers applicants were required to go upstairs to check the voters list – which potentially poses a problem for some persons with disabilities.

Exhibition Process (see Table 3)

Once centers were open, exhibition procedures were generally followed:

  • At 201 of 207 exhibition centers, everyone with a voter’s card was given permission to check the Preliminary Registration Roll (PRR) for their information;
  • At 198 of 207 exhibition centers, everyone was allowed to review the PRR to identify ineligible people so they could file a challenge to their inclusion on the PRR.
  • At 202 of 207 exhibition centers, everyone who found their information missing from the PRR were permitted to file an Application for Inclusion on the Provisional Registration Roll (Form EX002).

However, at a small number of exhibition centers (16 of 207 observed centers), someone who had evidence that a person should be removed from the PRR was not allowed to file a Challenge to Inclusion on the PRR form (Form EX-008).

According to the Daily Accounting Sheet provided by exhibition center officers, only a small number of visitors filed a claim form either for Correction, Incorrect or Missing Photo, Inclusion or an Objection to another person’s Inclusion.

Exhibition Figures (see Table 4)

At the exhibition centers where ECC observers were deployed, 9,258 people visited to check their information on the PRR, an average of 56 people per center based on 206 reports. A total of 3,982 of these visitors were women, representing 43 percent of visitor to the observed exhibition centers. The number of visitors was lowest at the beginning of the exhibition period (Monday, June 12) and highest at the end of the exhibition period (Saturday, June 17) (see Chart 2).

Critical Incidents

ECC observers were instructed to immediately report any serious problems that could compromise the conduct of exhibition process. A total of 10 critical incidents were reported by ECC electoral district observers from June 12 to June 16. Critical incidents that were reported by ECC observers were related to:

  • Initial denial of two ECC observers to observe exhibition due to the lack of accreditation badges; however, they were later allowed after the intervention of the concerned Magistrates.
  • One instance of the shortage of form Ex-002 (Application to Inclusion form) at an Exhibition Center
  • One instance of disruption of Exhibition by registrants whose information, names, or photos were missing from the roll and two instances by owner of premises NEC used to conduct the exhibition.

The ECC also received fifteen reports  of potentially significant numbers of missing persons from the Provisional Registration Roll at some centers out of which three were reported in by electoral district observers while twelve instances were reported in from other centers by County Coordinators who were deployed to identify stations where names were found missing.

Recommendations

Overall, reports from ECC electoral district observers from all 15 counties show that the exhibition of the Provisional Registration Roll (PRR) happened across the entire country from June 12-17, 2017. Further, all of the exhibition centers observed by ECC Observers seemed to have at least one of the two key methods of displaying the list, either posted on the wall and booklet.  However, neither citizens nor political parties appeared to take full advantage of the process. Observers recorded very few instances of party agents at the exhibition centers, and the number of citizens that visited the centers was relatively low, although varied county-by-county. Of the people who visited the Exhibition Centers very few filed for inclusion in case of missing information, names or photos. In addition, there were very few challenges to inclusion.  Nevertheless, the ECC collected anecdotal evidence of names and photos missing from PRRs in some centers. In some instances, a potentially significant number of names appeared to be missing. In this regard, the ECC appreciates the NEC by sharing with the public that over 13,000 registered voters are missing from the Provisional Registration Roll.  However, the NEC should still provide an explanation of how the information of these registered voters became missing from the list and what plans are in place to ensure legitimately registered voters are not disenfranchised. Also, an electronic version of the updated PRR should be provided to observer groups to enable independent analysis of the list.

The ECC offers the following recommendations to help enhance the quality of the registration process:

To the NEC:

  • That NEC should provide an electronic copy of the Provisional Registration Roll (PRR) to observer groups for independent analysis before the printing of the Final Registration Roll (FRR) in order to restore public confidence and trust in the 2017 electoral process thereby ensuring credibility of the process;
  • For future exhibition exercises, the NEC should provide civil society groups and key partners in the elections with preliminary statistics depicting the total number of registered voters, possible errors the public should expect during exhibition and the claims and objections period and why. In this case, these CSO groups and key election stakeholders can tailor their CVE engagements so that the public can have a prior understanding of these errors.
  • The NEC should as soon as possible provide information to the public to address concerns that a number of voters names did not appear on the PPR and their plans to remedy the issue.
  • The NEC should work closely with civil society groups, political parties and other election stakeholders to conduct widespread civic and voter education to ensure voters have information on how to participate in the 2017 elections. In future election cycles, the NEC should work with these actors to ensure adequate voter education ahead of the exhibition period in order for voters and political parties to better understand the importance of and how to participate in the process.

To Security Services

  • The Security Services should conduct a prompt and comprehensive investigation on individuals who committed fraudulent acts to obtain voter cards during the 2017 Voter Registration process and the findings of such investigations be made public .Also these individuals should be persecuted according to the Laws of Liberia.
  • Security Services should ensure the adequate presence of uniformed security personnel at subsequent electoral events especially on election day.

To Political Parties

    Political parties should make efforts to monitor subsequent electoral activities by deploying observers at polling centers especially on Election Day as well as commit themselves to monitoring future exhibition exercises.

To All Stakeholders

    Donors who provide funding to the Liberian Government for the 2017 elections should make adequate efforts to guide the NEC in the process of conducting a peaceful and credible elections.

About the ECC and Observation of the 2017 Presidential and Legislative Elections

The ECC has observed the 2017 voter registration process and released its final report about the process as planned. The ECC will issue an additional update on the Claims and Objections of the Provisional Registration Roll at the end of the process and will endeavor to share with the public its observation findings on the six selected political parties’ primaries observation coupled with the ongoing NEC candidate nomination process.

Download pdf version of update report here:ecc exhbition report_06_28_017