By Alva Mulbah Wolokolie
Members of the Board of Commissioners of the National Elections Commission (NEC) have released provisional results from the Voter Roll Update (VRU) exercise which was successfully completed on March 29, 2014, at the 1780 voter registration centers across the country.
NEC’s Chairman, Cllr. Jerome G. Korkoya, told reporters at a news conference on Thursday, April 17, 2014 that a total number of 104,710 Liberians who had attained the age of 18 years and above were registered. This number also represents Liberians who for one reason or the other did not register in the 2011 voter registration exercise.
The exercise is in consistent with Article 77(b) of the 1986 Constitution of Liberia. It started on January 29, and ended on March 29, 2014.
Chairman Korkoya explained that out of this number 104,710, 67,474 or 64.4% are new registrants whose ages range from 18 to 22 years. The provisional results also show that 65,989 or 63% of the new registrants are males while 38,721 or 37% are females. “This indicates the overwhelming desire of young Liberians to participate in the democratic process of the country,” Korkoya noted.
According to the provisional results, Montserrado County recorded the highest number of first time voters totaling 27,110 or 26% followed by Nimba and Margibi Counties with 11,251 and 9,677 or 11% and 9% respectively.
Conversely, Cllr. Korkoya disclosed that Rivercess and River Gee Counties recorded the lowest number of new registrants totaling 1,807 and 1,994 or 2% each. He added that registered voters who transferred from their previous areas of registration to their current areas of residency are recorded at 44,000.
It may be recalled that prior to the commencement of the Voter Roll Update exercise, the Commission informed the public that based on data obtained from various statistical sources a total of 400,000 eligible Liberians were expected to be registered. Of this number it was estimated that 250,000 would be eligible Liberians who have turned 18 years and above since the 2011 voter registration exercise, and those who for one reason or another did not register in 2011. The remaining 150,000 were estimated to be registered Liberians who wished to transfer from their previous areas of registration to their current area of residency.
In spite of the fact that the Commission put into place all of the essential measures intended to achieve this target, including the provision of the requisite logistical support as well as the conduct of an aggressive Civic Voter Education Campaign, using civil society organizations,, community and national media institutions, civic educators, town criers among others. The NEC chair said it is clear that the Commission did not achieve this target based on several factors, principal amongst which is voter apathy.
Cllr. Korkoya told journalists that in line with sub-chapter C, Section 3.11 of the new Elections Law of 1986 and the key dates of the 2014 Special Senatorial Election, the Commission will conduct an exhibition of the provisional voter roll from April 28 to May 2, 2014, and will be displayed at the 1780 voter registration centers across the country to enable citizens, including new registrants, to make claims and objections where necessary as well as make corrections to their personal data.
According to him, claims and objections to a name on the voter roll may include objection to registration of a person either because the registrant is a non-Liberian citizen or had not attained the age of 18 years and above.
Korkoya said the final figures of the number of registered voters in the country will be released on June 30, 2014 in line with the key dates of the October 14, 2014 Special Senatorial Election and would like to encourage all Liberians to participate in the exhibition exercise in order to help clean and correct the voter roll of the country.