Trevor Jenkins-Johnston: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 March 2018:
In 2002, APC and Ernest Bai Koroma garnered 22% of the votes; registered voters 2.3m with a turnout of 83%. Tejan Kabbah won by 70% of the votes. In 2007, Sierra Leone wanted change and in that they found the only other real alternative, the APC and Ernest Bai Koroma (EBK).
For most, a run-off was unthinkable then, but with the PMDC and Charles Margai in the mix, that was exactly what we got. His 14% of the votes would have got the APC (44%) over the 55% line in the first round. Turnout was 76%, of the 24% that were not counted, 7% were rejected ballots, rest obviously didn’t turn up.
In 2012, APC and Ernest Bai Koroma won easily, picking up 59% with a turnout of 87% and rejected ballots of 4%. The PMDC was now decimated, mustering only 1%. I guess those voters had jumped ship to APC.
2018, we have a voter roll of circa 3.2m. Using the 2002 & 2007 as a guide and assuming the country is fired up for this election, one can assume that turnout will at least be 87%.
As at 20th February, we know 165,000 had not collected ID cards; add to these a guestimate of 4% rejected ballots, and no-show folks, and you get the 24% not turning up.
Turnout will then be 2.8m, can any one party get 55% of the votes at the first time of asking?
Again, using past data, SLPP and Julius Maada (JMB) over the last 2 elections have averaged 37% of the votes. With NGC and Kandeh K Yumkella (KKY) making inroads into some of those votes this time round, will that figure still hold?
In 2007, the APC and EBK could only muster 44%, even with a genuine desire for change back then. Every election prior to that and after the war, they never made it past the 22% mark. The mood in the country appears to be for change, real change! I cannot see APC getting anywhere close to 44%; somewhere between 22% and 44%, probably closer to the lower end of the scale would be my guess.
At the last election, we had 7 parties, now we have 17. In 2007, share of votes of smaller parties totalled 3.5%, it would not be unreasonable to assume that at least 5% of the votes this time round will go to the smaller parties, but it could easily be double at 7%.
So, to summarise, we have the following:
a) Voters roll – 3.2m
b) Expected turnout of 87% or 2.8m
c) 5% of that going to smaller parties
d) What the 3 big boys are fighting for – 2.66m
e) SLPP share – possibly 37%
f) APC share – possible 25%
g) NGC share – difference 38%
That would mean a run-off is likely between SLPP and NGC.
The winner of that would be dependent on who can make deals and campaign effectively and efficiently in the two weeks leading up to the second round of polling.
What looks likely here is that anyone of the 3 parties that gets at least 33.34% of 2.66m votes or 887,000 votes in round 1 will most likely be in a runoff.
Variables that could affect the outcome of the election include but not limited to:
1. Disenfranchisement of voters on polling day – vehicle ban comes to mind; the sick, the elderly and the handicapped; not forgetting the across-town voter. How efficient/ effective will the government transportation be on the day?
2. Dubiously rejected ballots – how much supervision from each party agent will be available to ensure valid ballots are not deliberately invalidated.
3. Injected ballots – 11,122 polling stations, imagine 10-20 ghost ballots added in per station, we are talking between 111,000 – 222,000 ballots injected into the outcome. Thoughtfully injected the right way, a reconciliation at the end will not be able to pick this up.
4. Effectiveness of voter sensitisation drive – the volume of validly rejected ballots will play a part here.
5. Multi-voting prevention – are there systems in place to ensure only names on pre-printed NEC polling station voter rolls can vote at that station? Are staff trained to carefully scrutinise ID cards, match face and ask additional security questions? This is key to preventing polling station results being completely rejected.
6. Security around polling stations & polling centres
7. Police interference or ensuring the absence of it
8. Supervision end-to-end of agents of parties
9. 7% of Fulas and how they cast their vote
10. Circa 500,000 youths who were aged between 13-17 at last election and their desire for change
Some stats re 2007 election (first round) – all numbers approximated:
• Population – 6m
• Registered voters – 2.6m
• Turnout – 76%; 2012 – 87.3%
• Parties in the mix – 7
• Main contenders – 3
• Share of votes of other parties – 3.5%
• Registered voters as a % of population – 40%
• Polling stations – 6,171
• Rejected ballots – circa 7%; second round circa 2%
Some stats re 7th March 2018 election:
• Population – 7.7m
• Registered voters – 3.2m
• Parties in the mix – 17
• Main contenders – 3
• Registered voters as a % of population – 41.6%
• Polling stations – 11,122
• Annual population growth since 2007 – circa 2.2%
1. World Bank
2. World Population Review
3. NEC SL
4. World Data Atlas