Claim: Several users have shared a document on WhatsApp from the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone (ECSL), claiming that it is the disaggregated result of the just concluded general elections.
Verdict: Misleading. The document is not the disaggregated result. It is a breakdown of the number of voters distributed by polling centres nationwide.
Several people recently shared a document on WhatsApp, claiming that it is the disaggregated result of the just concluded elections.
The document’s title is “Voter Count by Polling Station.” The title indicates that it could be the tallied results by the polling station. At a time when there has been a desire for information about the just-ended election, many have been left vulnerable to misinformation.
The document has five columns labelled as; number, district, centre name, location and voter count.
The viral results on WhatsApp come when the release of the disaggregated results from polling stations have been at the centre of the opposition’s call. Among other demands, the All Peoples Congress has repeatedly called for the total result to be released by polling station.
So is this viral data purported to have emanated from the ECSL authentic, and is it the results of the just-ended polls in Sierra Leone?
DUBAWA contacted the Director of External Relations at the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone, Albert Massaquoi, to verify the document’s authenticity.
He confirmed that the document was from ECSL, but it’s not the election result, as some claimed. He added that the viral document was released before the election.
“The column indicating polling centre count expressly put out the number of registrants that registered during the voter registration process between Sept 4 to Oct 3 of 2022.
“The ECSL later established a policy that determines the number of voters entitled to a polling station…. depending on the number of persons registered at that location (centre).”
Massaqoui said depending on the number, they decided to use 300 as the threshold of voters to set up each polling station.
“In other words, every 300 voters at a location (centre) determine how many stations are set up within the centre (location). For example, one station is equal to 300 voters. So, two stations are equal to 600 voters and three stations 900 voters equal to three (polling) stations,” he clarified.
In response to calls to release the data, he said ECSL is under no legal obligation to release the data.
Massaquoi said: “It is not in law, but it is best practice. Eventually, the commission will do that soon.”
He added that in the last two elections, 2018 and 2012, it was released months after the general elections.
The viral document is not a disaggregated election result. It is a breakdown of voters by polling stations across the country.