Liberia: With Just a Year to Elections, How Prepared With the NEC to Switch to Biometric Voter Roll?

Monrovia — The timing, and lack of expertise are major concerns boggling the minds of many after the NEC’s announcement of its planned transition to biometric voter registration.

The chairperson of the National Elections Commission on Wednesday said the Commission has completed a tender evaluation and submission to Public Procurement Concession Commission for approval to award the contract. This would be the first time the NEC would be embarking on such an exercise.

FPA has learned that no personnel of the NEC currently have prior requisite experience and technical skills in biometric registration. Additionally, the composition of the evaluation committee to make a determination on the technical proposal submitted by prospective vendors lack the technical skills and experience for such a task.

Starting this new process just a year to the general and presidential elections brings to memory the several issues raised with the 2017’s Final Registration Roll, which after the election, the NEC was mandated by the Supreme Court to ensure a full clean of the Final Registration Roll (FRR).

The irregularities identified in the FRR (missing voter details, wrong polling places, etc) were a result of procurement decisions that occurred many months earlier, FrontPageAfrica gathered.

For that election, the government failed to provide the funding within ample, therefore, the procurement for voter registration began late and as a result of the strict timeline to vendors for delivery of registration materials, companies with requisite experience and capacity did not tender due to limited time line. Hence, the OMR forms procured for registration were faulty and did not meet the required specifications. This, FrontPageAfrica gathered, led to a messy FRR with missing voter details.

The National Elections Commission conducted several study tours to gather knowledge and learn from experienced countries how they conduct biometric voters registrations and the lessons learned. However, despite these tours, the Commission has not built the requisite capacity to emulate their examples. FrontPageAfrica further gathered that only one member of the evaluation panel formed part of the study tour.

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