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GeneralLiberia news

 Over 1.4m registered to vote so far

-As registration scheduled to kick off in remaining 10 counties

By Othello B. Garblah

National Elections Commission (NEC) preliminary results from the just ended Phase One of the Biometric Voters Registration (BVR) exercise in five counties indicate that over 1.4 million people have so far registered to vote in the scheduled October 10, general and presidential elections.

Phase two of the BVR exercise in the remaining 9 counties, Lofa, Bong, Nimba, Grand Gedeh, River Gee, Rivercess, Sinoe, Grand Kru, and Maryland Counties are expected to kick off on April 21.

The preliminary results of Phase One which were released on Monday, April 17, showed that at least 64, 395 people registered in Bomi County to vote on October 10. The county which is rated as the eleventh most populated county has about 133, 668 citizens in the once boisterous mining enclave. Gbarpolu, a county rich in diamonds and logs with an estimated population of 95, 995, recorded a total of 50, 887 registered voters.

Grand Bassa County, a once booming port city with an estimated population of 293,557 reported at least 157,712 registered voters ahead of the 2023 elections. Bassa is ranked as the sixth most populated county in Liberia, according to the controversial LISGIS 2022 National Housing and Population Census.

Grand Capemount County, endowed with gold and other mineral resources, with an estimated population of 178, 798, recorded 86, 589 registered voters. Margibi, a county that massively extends into Bong County and is widely noted for hosting all the major rubber plantations in the country, out of its estimated population of 304, 946, about 184, 425 persons registered to vote.

Montserrado County, which is regarded as the “World Bank” in terms of its huge cosmopolitan voting population, with an estimated population of 1,920, 914, recorded 891, 201 voters ahead of the October 10 polls.

NEC said of the total number of registered voters so far, 711, 410 were females, while males account for 723, 799 in the six phase one counties which have concluded registration.

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Observers say the number of registered voters could have witnessed a dramatic increase but fell drastically due to technical glitches which turned away many potential voters after staying in long queues.

In Grand Bassa District #4 for example, an exchange of text messages between a potential representative aspirant and an NEC Commissioner which was seen by this writer confirmed the problem.

Phase One of the BVR exercise began on March 20 and ended on April 9, despite appeals for NEC to extend the time due to the technical glitches which characterized the start of the process, the commission was adamant.

NEC Chair Davidetta Brown-Lansanah acknowledged reports of the technical glitches but said the problem is common with the introduction of every technology.

“It is not unusual for glitches and other challenges at the initial stages of using new machines to conduct the process, and we had quite a few,” she admitted.

However, she explained that “In order to address potential glitches in the second phase, the Commission on 13 April held one-day internal lessons learned workshop to understand the challenges that were encountered in Phase One, such as improper connection and powering of the equipment, BVR centers ownership, timing of meal allowance payment, logistics, etc.” Having identified the root causes of the challenges, the NEC, she added, is taking remedial actions to better the second phase.

Meanwhile, the election house said it has begun deduplication and adjudication of the voter registration records from the six counties in Phase One.

NEC Chair Davidetta Brown-Lansanah explained that the aim of this exercise is to remove all instances of multiple registrations and other data-cleaning processes.

She said the Commission has opened its doors to all observers and stakeholders, including political party technicians that are duly accredited by the NEC to observe the deduplication and adjudication process.

Accordingly, the NEC boss added that deployment of BVR kits to the Phase Two Counties commenced on Sunday, 16 April, and as at 01:00 this morning, 17 April, all BVR Kits and materials had left NEC Headquarters Warehouse for their respective destinations in central, north and southeastern Liberia.

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