3 March 2017

Sierra Leone: Over 3,000 Centres for Voter Registration

Photo: UNIPSIL
Voting in Freetown (file photo).

The National Electoral Commission (NEC) has announced that a total of 3,300 Civil and Voters Registration Centres would be used to register eligible Sierra Leoneans for the forthcoming presidential, parliamentary and local councils elections slated for March 7, 2018.

Christopher Jones, an Electoral Officer of NEC, revealed that the voter registration exercise would run from March 20 to April 16, 201, across the country, and that only those who took part in the process during the four weeks allocated by the commission would be eligible to vote.

He was making a presentation in the conference room of NEC at Tower Hill in Freetown during an engagement with civil society and the media on the voter registration process.

Section 33 of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone states that: "The National Electoral Commission (NEC) shall be responsible for the conduct and supervision of the registration of voters for, and of, all public elections and referenda."

He said the registration of potential voting population would be led by NEC and that after which, the National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA) will then proceed with the subsequent civil registration process after they would have finished capturing eligible voters.

According to him, the 3,300 voter registration centres will become Polling Centres on the day of elections, and that a Mobile Biometric Registration VIU 820 Kits will be used for both the Civil and Voter Registration exercise.

"NEC and NCRA are presently engaged in a series of cascaded trainings targeting senior cadre staffs of both institutions. A single registration form will be used during both registrations," he said and maintained that data generated during the voter registration would be shared with the NCRA.

Mr. Jones allayed the fears of civil society and the general populace that the dual purpose registration was consistent with the legal instruments of both institutions.

He highlighted camera, fingerprint reader, computer and signature pad to ensure the integrity of both the Civil and Voter Registration Registers by upholding the principle of 'one person, one vote' as functionalities of the VIU 820 kit.

Also, NEC Commissioner for western area, Miatta French, urged Sierra Leoneans to come out in their numbers and register for the elections as they would not be going to households to do the registration.

She said polling staff would be at the various centres from 7am to 5pm on a daily basis in order to capture the information of eligible voters.

Even though special arrangements has not been made for persons with disabilities, Commissioner French assured that preference and assistance will be provided to them once they make themselves available at the centres.

She added that each of the centres will have one VIU 820 kit with three registration staff on hand to capture voters' information.

Unlike the last voter registration, wherein pictures of people where not clear, Chief of Voters Roll and Data Management, Henry Swaray, said there was a software in place now to ensure that pictures were clean.

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