A civil society organization, “Peace Ambassadors The Gambia” (PAG), has released its third and final voter findings on the just ended voter registration process. The results detailed progress and shortcomings during the entire process.
Between 29th May and 11th July, “Peace Ambassadors, The Gambia” deployed 59 accredited observers by the Independent Electoral Commission across all the seven administrative regions and another set of 53 accredited observers in the constituencies, except for Janjanbureh, which completed its voters’ registration exercise on 28th May.
Although the IEC registration agents essentially followed most of the registration procedures, the findings show an increase in IEC registration officials arriving late and closing registration centers early. PAG observers also reported a rise in registration equipment malfunctions, which prevented several voters from going home with their voter’s cards.
The situation is best described in this statement of Bubacarr Sambou, President Peace Ambassadors of the Gambia. “As PAG’s findings noted during the first and second phase of our observation, registration staff appear to be inconsistently applying some of the registration procedures in some centers, many of which did not follow the COVID-19 safety protocols,” Bubacarr Sambou said.
PAG’s third phase of the voter registration observation from 7th July to 11th, some 52 observers submitted 155 reports reflecting their comments at 115 unique registration centers. Of the 155 reports received by observers, about 20% indicated that voter registration centers had opened by 9:30 am. An abnormally high percentage, although 80% of the centers opened on time.
“This is a slight decline from the first two phases when 89% of registration centers opened on time. As in the last phase, PAG observers noted that registration officials arrived late at many centers,” Bubacarr Sambou recalls.
Critical Incidents in Registration Procedures
Peace Ambassador President Bubacarr Sambou said some IEC officials didn’t bother to ask potential registrars if they’ve registered or acquired voter cards elsewhere before issuing.
“Other critical incidents by PAG observers include registration without the issuance of voter’s card; centers closure before stipulated time and malfunctioning of IEC electronic gadgets like laptops and printers.”
Peace Ambassador recommends that the IEC use concrete measures to effectively distribute voters’ cards to registrants who were not given their voter’s card on the spot.
The Civil society organization also asks IEC to enable accountability and transparency on the registered voters in a process that includes political parties, CSOs, and other stakeholders. According to PAG, one way to do that is through the display of the voter registration to further disaggregate the provisional number of registrants based on the constituencies, registration centers, and age bracket to ensure transparency.