By Naneka A. Hoffman
National Elections Commission (NEC) Chairperson Davidetta Browne – Lansanah says transitioning from manual Optical Mark Recognition (OMR) system to Biometric Technology for registration of voters has been emphasized in the Commission’s preliminary plans for 2023.
Ahead of the 2023 presidential and legislative elections, she told a press conference in Monrovia Wednesday, 31 August 2022 that prevention of multiple registrations and the promotion of accuracy of the information collected for each registered voter are some advantages of the Biometric Voters Registration (BVR).
She cited other advantages such as the creation of unique lifetime voter identification for each registered voter and the eradication of voter impersonation.
Further, she said the advantages include removal of duplicated records from the Voters Registration System; and the eradication of issues related to unintentional errors during the data entry process.
Madam Browne – Lansanah explained that the methodology for planned BVR exercise will begin on December 15, 2022, and end on March 17, 2023.
He said during the voters registration exercise, portable tablets with scanners will be used.
The NEC boss noted that the data entry process, which will be performed by use of customized software, will capture each applicant’s particulars, including facial images.
She detailed that fingerprint scanners will be used to capture the thumbprints of each applicant.
An initial de-duplication will be performed at each registration center, and voter registration cards ( with special features) will be printed and issued to voters on the spot at the registration center.
According to Madam Browne – Lansanah, the Commission has decided that the Biometric Voter Registration will be done in three phases on a regional basis, and the registration teams will be stationed at each registration center.
This means that when the registration teams are deployed in a region, all registration centers in that region will be opened for registration for a period of three weeks and thereafter, the teams will move to the next region, she said.
Region One ( Phase One) will cover Montserrado, Bomi, Gbarpolu and Grand Cape Mount Counties and this phase will start on December 15, 2022, and ends on January 6, 2023.
Region Two (Phase Two) will cover Bong, Grand Bassa, Lofa and Margibi Counties, and it will start on January 21, 2023, and ends on February 10, 2023.
Region Three (Phase Three) will cover Grand Gedeh, Grand Kru, Maryland, Nimba, River Gee, Rivercess and Sinoe Counties, and it will start on February 25, 2023, and end on March 17, 2023.
The Commission said it will take further steps to publish these key dates. Madam Browne – Lansanah indicated that the customized software that will be used during the registration exercise, the setting up of the servers, training of NEC staff by the vendor, and the arrival in country of the Biometric Equipment must all be done before the start of the registration.
She stated that NEC, working with the government, adjusted the submitted 2023 Comprehensive Elections Budget to the tune of US $61 million dollars.
She disclosed that the Government of Liberia appropriated and approved in the National Budget for Fiscal Year 2022 the amount of US$ 20,000,000.00 for the NEC.
She said this amount represents partial funding to enable the NEC to conduct Voter Registration and other preliminary electoral activities.
To date, she added, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP) has disbursed to the NEC the amount of US$ 6,000,000.00.–Edited by Winston W. Parley