Claim: “National Elections Commission disqualifies 27,000 voters,” the Daily Observer Newspaper alleged.
Verdict: Misleading! DUBAWA’s analysis of available data and clarification by the NEC’s Communication Director shows that the NEC removed 27,192 duplicate entries but did not disqualify 27,000 voters.
After a successful Biometric Voter Registration exercise in Liberia, the country conducted the exhibition, deduplication, and adjudication of the provisional registration roll (PRR) from June 12, 2023, to June 17, 2023. Subsequently, the chairperson of the National Elections Commission (NEC), Madam Davidetta Lansanah, officially released the final exhibition figures as required by law.
Prior to the exhibition, the NEC announced the preliminary figures of 2,498,904 registrants, of which 27,192 duplicate records were identified while 529 suspected underage registrants were flagged. As a result, the total number of active registrants were 2,471,183.
During the announcement of the official final exhibition figures, Madam Lansanah said the final figures of registered voters are 2,471,617.
After the NEC released the final exhibition figures, the Daily Observer Newspaper published a story in its July 21, 2023 edition with the headline, “National Elections Commission Disqualifies 27,000 voters.”
The claim made by the newspaper, sparked concerns from media personnel and the United Nations, through its Political Party Specialist, Aagon Tingba.
Given the controversy the story has generated, DUBAWA decided to check the facts.
DUBAWA first contacted Robin Dopoe, the journalist who authored the story, to discover the source of his publication. He stated that the source of the story was from the NEC’s publication.
According to him, “the inscriptions on the voting cards obtained by those registered by the NEC state voter registration cards and not entries registration card.”
The author of the story, who is the Senior Editor of the newspaper, further said,
“There is no way a person can have a voting card, and it would be said that the person is not a voter.”
He, however, indicated that he contacted NEC’s Henry Flomo on July 17, 2023, seeking answers but did not get any response. He added that the headline alone does not tell the entire story, but the supporting paragraphs do.
According to him, the NEC miscommunicated.
“After the deduplication, there were differences in the number announced by the NEC. What happened to the differences in the numbers was the question we answered, which led us to conclude that 27,192 voters were disqualified.
“The Daily Observer trusts its report and stands by it. The figures mentioned in our report emanated from the release issued by the NEC.”
The researcher then checked the NEC Voter Registration Regulations of 2022 to ascertain the legal process of the exhibition, deduplication and adjudication process of the voter registration exercise.
“When the name of the same voter appears on the Registration Roll more than once, the NEC may order the removal of multiple entries to leave only one name,” section 16.2 of the regulations states.
As seen in the section, the 27,192 duplicated figures announced by the NEC are not physical voters but those whose names have been repeated multiple times. When that happens, the Commission, through adjudication, is empowered by law to remove the duplicates and retain one of each of those numerous entries.
The Communication Director of the NEC, Henry Flomo, responded to the newspaper’s claim following DUBAWA’s engagement at a training session with journalists.
According to Mr Flomo, the NEC did not disqualify voters as the Daily Observer Newspaper claimed.
He stated that the numbers mentioned by the newspaper are preliminary duplicated registration entries rather than actual voters.
He also added that the reporter who authored the article misinformed the public by not getting a proper interpretation of what he calls the Provisional Registration Roll (PRR) and the Final Registration Roll (FRR).
DUBAWA then contacted the Communication Office of the NEC to discover if anyone had challenged them about the disqualification. However, the Deputy Communication Director, Prince Dunbar, referred DUBAWA to the Legal Office.
The Legal Office further referred DUBAWA to the Data Center as the best place to provide the information.
Responding to the inquiry, the Data Center Director of the NEC, Issac Zahn, disclosed that there is no case against the agency over disqualifying duplicate entries.
According to Mr Zahn, the Biometric Voter Registration machines that detected the duplicates were accurate in their findings.
The National Elections Commission did not disqualify 27,000 voters. The Daily Observer Newspaper publication is misleading.