Claim: “National Elections Commission disqualifies 27,000 voters.” The Daily Observer Newspaper claims.
Verdict: Misleading! The NEC Communication Director clarifies that the NEC removed 27,192 duplicate entries but did not disqualify 27,000 voters.
Full Text: Following the exhibition, deduplication, and adjudication of the provisional registration roll (PRR), which was conducted from June 12, 2023, to June 17, 2023, after the Biometric Voter Registration exercise, the chairperson of the National Elections Commission (NEC), Davidetta Lansanah, officially released the final exhibition figures.
Before the exhibition, the NEC announced the preliminary figures of 2,498,904 registrants, of which 27,192 duplicate records were identified, 529 suspected underage registrants were flagged, and the total active registrants were 2,471,183.
During the announcement of the official final exhibition figures, Brown- Lansanah said the final figures of registered voters were 2,471,617.
After the NEC released the final exhibition figures, the Daily Observer Newspaper, published in its July 21, 2023, edition that the “National Elections Commission Disqualifies 27,000 Voters.” The claim made by the newspaper sparked concerns from the United Nations, through its Political Party Specialist, Aagon Tingba, and some media persons, raising the eyebrows of Stage Media (TSM) to check for the facts.
Verification: NEC’s Communication Director, Henry Flomo, responded to the newspaper’s claim, following TSM’s engagement. The clarification was made during an election reporting training for journalists recently in Nimba organized by the NEC.
According to Flomo, the NEC did not disqualify voters as claimed by the Daily Observer Newspaper.
He stated that the numbers mentioned by the newspaper were preliminary duplicate registration entries and not actual voters.
Adding also that the reporter who authored the article misinformed the public by not getting a proper interpretation of what he referred to as the Provisional Registration Roll (PRR) and the Final Registration Roll (FRR).
TSM contacted Robin Dopoe, the journalist who authored the news story, and he stated, “The inscriptions on the voting cards obtained by those who are registered by the NEC state voter registration card and not entries registration card.”
According to Dopoe, who is the Senior Editor of the newspaper, “There is no way a person can have a voting card, and it is said that the person is not a voter.”
Dopoe, however, indicated that he contacted Flomo on July 17, 2023, seeking answers to his questions, but to date, the newspaper has not gotten any response from the NEC communication boss.
He accused the NEC of causing the misinformation by not communicating in a simplified manner, not the newspaper.
“After the deduplication, there were differences in the number announced by the NEC. What happened to the differences in the numbers was the question we answered that led us to the conclusion that 27,192 voters were disqualified,” he justified.
“The Daily Observer trusts its report and stands by it. The figures mentioned in our report emulate the release issued by the NEC,” Dopoe said.
The NEC Voter Registration Regulations of 2022 were also checked by this researcher to ascertain the legal process of the exhibition, deduplication, and adjudication processes of the voter registration exercise.
Section 16.2 of the regulations states, “When the name of the same voter appears on the Registration Roll more than once, the NEC may order the removal of multiple entries to leave only one name.”
As can be seen in the section, the 27,192 duplicated figures announced by the NEC are not physical voters, but the same voters being repeated multiple times, of which the Commission adjudicated the removal of the duplicates and retained one of each of those multiple entries.
However, the NEC is expected to publish a statement against the newspaper’s publication. It is unclear what action the statement will come up with.
Conclusion: The National Elections Commission did not disqualify 27,000 voters. The Daily Observer’s publication is misleading.