Gambia: IEC Urged to Deliver Voters' Cards to Unissued Registrants

2 August 2021

The executive secretary of Peace Ambassador - The Gambia (PAG), Saturday called on the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to employ concrete measures to ensure effective and respective distribution of voters' cards of registrants that were not given their cards on spot during the registration process.

Yankuba Manjang in a PAG monthly stakeholders' dialogue held at a local hotel on voter registration in Kololi said: "During the last phase of the observation, several observers reported that malfunctions or a shortage of supplies for the card printers resulted in applicants having to go back later or go to other centers to collect their registration cards."

Manjang said that these challenges seemed most prevalent in the Basse, Janjanbureh and Kerewan administrative areas.

Meanwhile, he said that it is not clear to PAG whether some registrants have not received their voter cards yet. But added: "Three hundred and seventy-five of 472 reports indicated that all successful registrants were issued their voters cards before leaving the registration centers."

On registration procedures

Manjang said PAG's report has indicated that registration of officials followed most of registration process, noting that 469 of 472 reports showed that all or many registrants were asked to present a valid identification document such as national identification card, birth certificate, Gambian passport and attestation before being registered.

"Four hundred and fifty-two of 472 reports showed that no applicant who presented a valid national identification document was denied registration.

"Four hundred sixty-one of 472 reports showed that applicants were asked to affix their thumbprint to registration form to satisfy that their information was correct before it was sent to the operator.

"Four hundred sixty-four of 472 observer reports showed that the operator input the data of all applicants in to the laptops and their photos were taken," he said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Manjang said observers also noted that some procedures were applied inconsistently across registration centers. He cited that 294 of 472 reports reflect that IEC officials did not always ask registrants whether they had registered somewhere else.

"Fifty-one of 472 reports have shown that if the applicant was found ineligible, registration officials did not fill out the rejection form and rejected applicant was not served a copy. Several observers note that registration officials turned away minors without filling out registration forms," he noted.

This, he said, was a challenge in Brikama and Kerewan administrative areas.

Use of Attestation Forms

He said PAG has observed that a good number of Gambian used the attestation to register. "Three hundred and eighty-five of 472 reports indicated that some or many applicants utilized an attestation form as identification and 11 of 472 reports indicated that all applicants used this method to register."

Speaking further, he said reports have also shown that all the registration officials across the country followed the registration procedures.

"There have been challenges with the IEC officials reporting to registration centres late and closing earlier than stipulated time," he revealed.

He said PAG has also observed that security personnel and political agents are being deployed across the country to observe the process, while noting that registration staff appeared to be inconsistent in enforcing the COVID-19 regulations.

For his part, Samboujang Njai, IEC chief election officer, said the commission has already put mechanisms in place to deliver voters' cards to unissued registrant. "We have their contacts and we know where their addresses are," he added.

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