NEC Issued Alternative Writ – To Surrender Final Registration Roll List By:Yassah J Wright

45

The presiding Justice in Chamber at the Supreme Court of Liberia, Jamesetta H. Wolokollie, has finally issued the Alternative Writ of Mandamus that was filed by Unity Party through its Standard Bearer Joseph N. Boakai against the National Elections Commission. Accordingly, Justice Wolokollie issued the Alternative Writ of Mandamus on NEC Chair, Madam Davidetta Browne-Lanssanah, including its Commissioners on the Board that failure to surrender the final registration roll on Friday after Madam Lanssanah told the Supreme Court to she will present it to them on Friday, September 29, 2023.On Wednesday, September 27, 2023, the opposition Unity Party petitioned the Supreme Court to issue a Writ of Mandamus against the National Elections Commission to compel the electoral body “to produce, publish, and distribute the Final Registration (voter) Roll.”The Petitioner 13 counts petition averred that it is a duly registered, certified and accredited political party under the laws of the Republic of Liberia and they have participated in every election dating back from 1985, 1997, 2005, 2011, and 2017 and will be participating in the forthcoming General and Presidential Elections slated for October 10 2023. Accordingly, the Unity Party was accredited in keeping with Section 2.9(d) of the New Elections Law of Liberia. Also, the petitioner furthered that consistent with duties devolved on the NEC by the New Elections Law and as well as the Opinion of the Supreme Court, NEC is mandated to publish and submit to Political Parties and Independent Candidates copied of the Final Registration Roll of all registered voters disaggregated by locations in every electoral district in the country. It stated that consistent with the 2023 Voter Registration Regulations, Final Registration Roll means a list of registered voters who are qualified to vote that is produced following exhibition and decision(s) on voters’ appeal(s), claim(s) and challenges and required changes The roll, which cannot be altered 30 days to an election except by a Supreme Court order, contains the names, addresses, and other essential information of registered voters and plays a pivotal role in verifying the legitimacy of the electoral process. The UP Political Leader mentioned that on August 29, 2023, the Chairperson of NEC Madam Davidetta Browne-Lanssanah appeared to the Honorable House of Senate under oath and faithfully promised to provide the FRR on the 18th of September 2023 but it has failed to its statutory responsibility for which they are under oath to adhere to. However, with 11 days to the October 10 polls, the electoral body is yet to provide a definite release date for the Final Registration Roll despite political pressure to do so. The electoral body which has, however, not committed to a specific date for the publication of the roll, has insisted that it is working diligently towards making the list available “in a secured format and available to all stakeholders as soon as possible.” “Printing of the Final Registration Roll (FRR) began about a week ago and is progressing well,” the NEC said in a release last week. “NEC staff  are working day and night to ensure that the voter roll and other election materials are deployed in time for the October 10 general elections.” The Unity Party and other opposition politicians have for the last few weeks contended that the NE’’s failure to provide access to the “roll violates the principles of transparency and fairness that underpin democratic elections.” They argue that without “timely” access to the crucial document, political parties would find it tough to adequately identify any irregularities or discrepancies in the roll and have it correct. The NEC has yet to issue a formal response to the Unity Party’s petition since the case was filed today but it is expected to proceed swiftly through the legal process, given the urgency surrounding the impending national elections. The Supreme Court is expected to carefully review the merits of the Unity Party’s argument and assess whether a writ of mandamus is warranted in this particular situation. A writ of mandamus is a court order compelling a government official or agency to perform a mandatory duty or function required by law. In this case, the Unity Party argues that the NEC has a legal obligation to make the “final registration roll accessible to the public and political parties,” and its failure to do so warrants judicial intervention. They averred that consistent with the 2023 Voter Registration regulations, Section 16.5, the Final Registration Roll (FRR) for each magisterial area shall be available at that magisterial office for public inspection during normal business hours.

Comments are closed.