Overall, reports from ECC observers show that the process was generally well conducted with some challenges during the initial phase of the exercise. The ECC commends the National Elections Commission (NEC) for releasing preliminary registration figures disaggregated by county.
The Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC), deployed 43 trained observers across the 6 counties and 36 electoral districts to observe phase one of the 2023 biometric voter registration exercise that took place from March 20 to April 9, 2023.
Setup and Opening
All NEC registration centers generally opened on time, between 8:00 am to 8:30 am with some of the centers opening late, after 9:31 am. Late openings were primarily due to the lack of printer cards, electricity to power the equipment and the late arrival of some of the NEC registration teams.
► 185 of 216 registration centers opened on time, with only 31 of the centers opening late. Centers were reported to be clearly identifiable to applicants and marked by signs;
► 26 of 216 centers were located within buildings with stairs-making accessibility difficult to persons with disabilities;
► 3 registration staff were present at opening with at least one female who was a member of the team;
► 211 of 216 centers had the critical materials present during set-up- a complete BVR kit present, all the necessary forms (including rejection and complaint forms) and ledger for recording the names of successful applicants;
The NEC registration teams generally followed registration procedures but did not consistently require applicants to provide proof of eligibility particularly those who did pre-registration online.
► At 206 of 211 registration centers, persons with disabilities, the elderly, and pregnant women were allowed to register before other applicants;
► At 147 of 211 registration centers, applicants were asked to present proof of eligibility before being registered while in 64 of these centers, applicants were allowed to register without providing proof of eligibility (see Chart 5).
► At 126 of 210 registration centers, every successful applicant had his/her finger marked with an indelible ink to minimize double registration;
► At 203 of 211 registration centers, applicants received their voter registration cards before leaving the center; however, in 8 registration centers, successful applicants did not receive their BVR cards mainly due to shortage in cards at these centers
ECC observers reported instances of equipment failure or malfunction during the period:
► At 47 of 211 registration centers, the BVR equipment experienced malfunction but was quickly resolved, and at 18 of these centers, the malfunction caused serious delay;
► At 42 of 211 registration centers, the malfunctioning equipment was immediately fixed or replaced.
► At 68 of 211 registration centers, ECC observers reported that the NEC staff did not fill the rejection form, whenever an applicant was rejected.
ECC observers witnessed a total of 18,639 applicants successfully register, an average of 96 successful registrants per center based on 190 reports.
A relatively higher number of women were seen registering at observed centers.
Women represented 48% of successful registrants observed by the ECC.
Closing of registration centers
ECC observers reported closing of the registration centers generally by 5:30 pm; however, in a small component of these centers, applicants in line by 5:00 pm were not allowed to register.
► 110 of 213 centers observed by ECC closed between 5:00 pm to 5:31 pm and 38 of these centers were reported to close after 6:31 pm.
► Only in 9 of 213 registration centers observed, applicants in line by 5:00 pm were not allowed to register.
ECC reports show generally low presence of uniformed security personnel at registration centers. Only 130 of 216 registration centers had uniformed security personnel present;
ECC observers reported that in 166 of 212 centers observed, political party agents were deployed. The data shows that Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) and the Unity Party (UP) had the highest number of deployed agents followed by the Collaborating Political Parties (CPP) and others.
Objections & Appeals on Voter Registration
ECC observers reported 21 complaints filed by rejected applicants because they were perceived to be underaged, foreigners or the inability to present a valid document to prove their eligibility. However, all 7 county coordinators reported that there was no hearing held at any of the Magistrates’ offices throughout the period of phase one.
A total of 12 critical incidents were reported by ECC observers during phase one of voter registration and they included:
► Malfunctioning of BVR equipment due to overheating of the computers, solar panels or card printers
► Shortages in materials, such as ink and cards at voter registration centers which resulted in delay of the BVR process or closure of some centers for the entire day.
► Instances of voter trucking by aspirants notably in three counties, Margibi, Montserrado and Grand Bassa, primarily targeting first-time voters;
► Isolated instances of violence and intimidation carried out in Montserrado electoral district 10 and Grand Cape Mount-electoral district 01.
Recommendations: The ECC provides the following recommendations to improve phase two of the BVR in the remaining 9 counties.
► That the NEC conduct debriefing and adequate supervision of staff to evenly apply registration procedures during the conduct of the process;
► The NEC should also make public preliminary registration figures disaggregated by electoral districts;
► That the NEC increase the time for VR by two weeks for counties with larger populations such as Nimba, Bong and Lofa.
► The NEC should adopt a definite contingency plan to immediately address any possible equipment failure or malfunction during phase two, considering that the counties in phase two are remotely situated;
► The Ministry of Justice should ensure that ongoing investigations into electoral offenses are properly conducted and completed and the outcomes made available to the public and to also hold perpetrators accountable;
► Political parties are reminded to train and deploy their agents at all VR
Centers in order to maintain confidence in the outcome of the Final Registration Roll;
► The Liberian National Police and other security agencies should increase the presence of uniformed security personnel across the phase two counties to help enforce the law;
The Elections Coordinating Committee (ECC) is Liberia’s largest domestic election observation network with diverse competencies, experiences, and expertise in democracy, elections, and governance established since 2010. ECC’s members include the Center for Democratic Governance (CDG); Center for Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP); Center for Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding (CECPAP); Institute for Research and Democratic Development (IREDD); Naymote
Partners for Democratic Development (NAYMOTE-PADD); West Africa Network for Peace Building (WANEP), and the Women NGO Secretariat of Liberia (WONGOSOL). The ECC election observation effort is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). “The contents of this update are the responsibility of the ECC and does not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.”