ILRJ: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 9 April 2023:
By all accounts, the 2023 voter identification cards produced by the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL) are substandard and mediocre. Many cards contain errors, such as incorrect gender and blurred photos, making identifying the voter difficult or impossible. This would have been comical if it were not so costly.
The security features on these cards are questionable at best. A high-quality voter identification card should contain holograms or other visible and invisible marks that cannot be easily replicated or forged.
Moreover, the QR code on the card should facilitate quick and accurate identification of the voter and not just repeat the registration number.
The poor management and printing of the voter identification cards raise serious concerns for the upcoming elections and could lead to severe consequences. These mistakes in the voter identification process can create confusion and frustration among voters and could potentially result in voter suppression if eligible voters are wrongly deemed ineligible to vote.
This could ultimately lead to an increase in disputes and challenges during and after the election process, eroding the credibility of the elections.
The Election Commissin Sierra Leone must take immediate steps to address these issues and ensure that voter registration cards are accurate and high-quality. They should reissue cards to affected voters or provide alternative identification options at polling stations.
Given the short timeframe before the election, it is critical that the ECSL acts promptly and transparently so that voters can have confidence in the accuracy and impartiality of the electoral process.
Additionally, it is crucial that the ECSL provides clear and accessible information to voters on how to verify their registration status and address any issues they may encounter before and during the voting process.
About The Institute for Legal Research and Advocacy for Justice (ILRAJ)
The Institute for Legal Research and Advocacy for Justice is an independent non-partisan public policy research and educational think tank established to explain, monitor and contribute to the protection of human rights and the rule of law; preserve, study, and enhance accountability and access to justice; increase awareness and understanding of and promote, women’s and children’s rights, youth justice and respect for human rights; promote capacity Building amongst women, the youth, disadvantaged communities and groups.
ILRAJ fosters innovative academic research and scholarship; undertake research for policy purposes and law reform sensitization, litigation and advocacy to enforce the rights of individuals communities and disadvantaged groups; offer expertise to train human rights leaders and provide legal advice and expertise to support governments, quasi government bodies, civil society organizations and other institutions.
ILRAJ seeks to defend the rule of law, improve the human rights situation to ensure that the human rights of all persons in Sierra Leone is respected in line with the country’s international obligations and to promote youth justice accountability and access to justice.