Dr. Doma: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 July 2023:
In response to Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr’s statement published today in the Sierra Leone Telegraph regarding the Freetown mayoral election results, it is important to critically analyze the concerns raised about the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone (ECSL) and the transparency of the entire electoral process. (Photo above: Chief Electoral Commissioner – Mohamed Konneh).
While it is crucial to uphold transparency and accountability in any democratic society, it is necessary to examine the issues at hand objectively.
Transparency plays a vital role in ensuring the accuracy and completeness of election results. A key aspect of this transparency lies in the availability of Results and Reconciliation Forms (RRFs), which document the votes obtained by each candidate at every polling station.
These forms, completed and validated by ECSL staff, political party agents, and independent observers, allow the public to witness the tallying process and maintain trust in the electoral system.
Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr and her team have made efforts to share summarized results from a substantial number of RRFs, representing 80% of the polling centers. According to their analysis, Aki-Sawyerr secured 66.1% of the votes, while her opponent, Mohamed Gento Kamara, received 32.78% of the votes. These figures are claimed to be derived directly from the RRFs, which are considered a reliable source of data.
Furthermore, it should be noted that Aki-Sawyerr went a step further in providing transparency by uploading the actual RRF forms onto the internet, allowing anyone to review them by simply clicking on the link provided in the spreadsheet she circulated. This significant step strengthens the credibility of the data she shared, as it is not an opinion but a verified fact.
However, concerns have been raised about the ECSL’s failure to release the disaggregated results per polling station, which were used to arrive at the published results. This request would not have been necessary if ECSL had allowed the political parties and observers to see the data that was being entered into the tallying system at the ECSL as has been done in every prior election.
ECSL’s refusal to display the data being entered into the RRFs on a projector means that the tallying process was not transparent as neither the political parties nor the observers could check the results against their own RRFs at the point at which the data was being entered.
This omission has led to doubts and raised questions about the credibility of the electoral process.
Candidates, voters, and election observers, including the All People’s Congress Party, the National Elections Watch (NEW), and international observers, have all demanded the disclosure of these disaggregated results. Their collective request emphasizes the significance of transparency and the citizens’ right to have their votes accurately counted and their voices heard.
It Is crucial for the ECSL to address these concerns promptly and provide the public with complete and accurate results of the Freetown mayoral elections. By doing so, they would effectively restore trust in the electoral process and demonstrate their commitment to transparency and accountability.
Maintaining transparency and accountability are indispensable for a robust democracy, and compromising on these values should be avoided.
The citizens of Freetown have a legitimate expectation to be informed accurately, and the release of the disaggregated results per polling station would be a necessary step toward achieving this goal.
Collaboration is essential to ensure a fair, transparent, and genuinely representative electoral process. This approach would strengthen democracy and contribute to a better future for Freetown and Sierra Leone as a whole.