September 4, 2017 By Ibrahim Tarawallie
A group of civil society organisations have stated that issues relating to data loss, omission and data transfer from one Registration Centre, and in one electoral district to another, has the potential to create chaos during the 2018 multitier elections.
The Sierra Leone Elections Mega Observers (SL-EMO) stated that during the observation of the Exhibition Process countrywide, they found serious lapses regarding the Provisional Voter Register.
From August 22 to 28, 2018, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) opened exhibition centres countrywide for eligible voters to verify information provided during the biometric voter registration early this year.
Unfortunately, thousands of Sierra Leoneans, who had registered, were unable to see their names during the exercise. This ugly development brought about mix-feelings among the public, especially CSOs with questions being asked as to the credibility and readiness of NEC to conduct the elections.
Officials from NEC were summoned by the house of parliament last week to explain the challenges, especially the missing of data during the exhibition exercise, as well as whether they will be able to make public the final voters register on September 7, 2017.
In a press release, SL-EMO highlighted the significant loss of registrants’ data, data transfer from one Registration Centre to the other and significant omission of registrations’ data as some of the challenges.
They expressed grave concern that the challenges that have afflicted the Provisional Voters Register significantly undermine the integrity of the electoral process and has the potential to undermine the credibility of the 2018 elections.
“In addition to the above grave concerns, we also note that the Registration Exhibition was negatively affected by lack of effective sensitization before and during the process, landslide and flooding disaster in Freetown and parts of the country and CSOs engagement with the Budget hearing,” the release stated.
SL-EMO, which comprises Democracy Sierra Leone, National Youth Coalition, Anti-Violence Movement and Civil Rights Coalition, among others called on NEC to engage all political parties and elections stakeholders and also present a comprehensive report on the various issues affecting the voter register.
While thanking the country’s electoral body and other electoral players for keeping to the reviewed electoral timeline and for the deployment of staff around the country, the group urged NEC to do everything possible to ensure the completeness of the voter register.