Ghostbusting: Communication is key

SIERRA LEONE: Total Misinformation About Rumoured Deletion Of 7, 000 Teachers From Pay Vouchers (Cocorioko)

The Minister of Education, Dr. Minkailu Bah, was the first to challenge those figures, stating that they were too alarming and therefore subject to further verification by his ministry. The Minister therefore suggested that a Task Force, comprising the staff of the firm that carried out the registration; his ministry’s staff and representative from the Sierra Leone Teachers’ Union (SLTU) should conduct a follow up re-verification exercise that should last for 90 days. He asked that Heads of Schools and Proprietors be sufficiently notified so that they too could notify all Teachers on their lists.

During this second phase of verification, Teachers who refuse or do not make themselves available to be properly verified would eventually be deleted from the government pay vouchers, the Minister cautioned.

The SLTU Representative was given a soft copy of this report. Somehow, these representatives from the SLTU decided to send a message to all Teachers around the country, particularly those whose names are on the list for re-verification (7,761), notifying them that they have been maintained as “Ghost Teachers” and therefore their names are going to be deleted from the government pay voucher.

Misinformation shenanigans can’t be ruled out but when people’s jobs are on the line, emotions can run hot. Good communication about the process can help a lot.

Early reports on Sierra Leone elections are cautiously optimistic ahead of results

WASHINGTON POST: Sierra Leone carried out a largely peaceful and well-conducted vote despite isolated reports of money changing hands and polling stations marred by bees and lack of light, observers said Monday.

AFP: Sierra Leone’s election received kudos from observers Monday for being peaceful and well-organised, but concerns spiked over potential violence around results as the opposition alleged poll fraud.

Sierra Leone votes today

Can tech revolutionize African elections? (CNN)
by Jonathan Bhalla at Africa Research Institute

An often overlooked aspect of the current electoral cycle in Sierra Leone is the use of biometric technology to capture thumb prints and facial features in the registration of voters.

“Credible elections start with credible voter registration,” remarked Christiana Thorpe, chief commissioner of Sierra Leone’s National Electoral Commission, during a presentation at Africa Research Institute in London in July 2011. For Thorpe, a bloated or inaccurate voter register always has a negative effect on the electoral process.

Read the whole thing.

Africa: Other biometric elections

KENYA: IEBC Briefs Kibaki on Poll Preparedness (All Africa).
Training electoral workers and informing the public is a HUGE part of the challenge of implementing biometric elections. It’s also one of the most expensive parts ‵ more expensive than the technology, I’d say, even in places with low labor costs.

CAMEROON: Keeping the veil on women’s electoral participation (News Day)
“Allowing women to get national identity cards could also be potentially upsetting for men who want absolute control over their wives.” We’ve made the point here over and over that a legitimate ID is a prerequisite to full participation in the modern world. It seems our point of view is widely shared.

SIERRA LEONE: 2012 Election: A test democracy (In Depth Africa)
The election will be the first since the end of the 11-year war in 2002 to be conducted entirely by the Sierra Leone government. The country’s 2.6 million voters were registered for the first time on a biometric system to prevent multiple voting and avoid electoral fraud. The Guardian (UK) also has a useful article on the stakes in Saturday’s Sierra Leone election.

ARMM, Philippines: Lack of Legal Framework Undermines Biometric Voter Exercise

Doubts raised ARMM can purge voters’ list (Yahoo – Philippines)

In another case of how good management and good technology need to be in the same place at the same time in order to make a real difference, an apparent legal oversight means that the process of disqualifying fraudulent voter registrations in the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao is to be so time consuming that it may be impossible to complete before the scheduled elections.

As far as I can tell, the laws governing the biometric voter registration in the ARMM don’t make any provision for rejecting multiple registrations. There also isn’t any mention of it being against the law to register multiple times. Given its electoral history it’s difficult to assume that local authorities can have been surprised by any of this.

The situation in the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao stands in stark contrast to Sierra Leone. See Woman Sentenced for Double Voter Registration.

Interesting Data on Sierra Leone Voter Enrollment

Updates on the electoral process (Sierra Express Media)

To-date, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) has issued Two Million Four Hundred and Twenty five Thousand and Twenty Six (2,425,026) Voter ID Cards out of a total of Two Million Six Hundred and Sixty Three Thousand Seven Hundred and Forty Six (2,663,746) printed cards. The difference of two Hundred and Thirty Eight Thousand Seven hundred and Twenty (238,720) represents:

♦ Unclaimed cards
♦ Cards not yet collected by Diasporas
♦ 794 duplicates currently being investigated by CID
♦ Correction done during Exhibition

The data obtained from the exhibition process are being consolidated and will be matched with the central Biometric Voter Registration data in Brussels, Belgium. Voter ID Cards will subsequently be printed and distributed nationwide during the last week of August 2012.

That’s impressive!

There’s much more, including the cost of the exercise at the link.

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