By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) published the Provisional Voter Register highlighting that over 987 thousand voters’ cards were issued for the 2021 Provisional Voter Register. However, the updated 2011 Voter Register indicates that less than 887 thousand voters’ cards were issued after the 2016 Supplementary Voter Registration exercise. Calculating the difference between the two voter registers highlights that the 2021 Voter Register has increased by 100,906 Registered Voters compared to the revised 2011 Voter Register.
Increased Resources for General Registration
Section 14 of the Gambia’s Electoral Act 1996 gives the IEC the discretion to “determine and declare the period within which it is to carry out a general and supplementary registration of voters in a constituency”. The IEC Chairperson’s speech at the commencement of the Voter Registration Exercise highlights that “the general voter registration is key in the electoral cycle of 2021 to 2023” and that “one million voters are expected to be registered”.
Explaining how the 2021 Voter Registration Exercise differs from the previous year’s IEC Chairperson, Alieu Momar Njai said that “the previous General Voter Registration was conducted in 2011. It was conducted in over 636 Registration Centers and 800 Registration Officers were contracted”.
In contrast to the “2021 General Voter Registration, 220 voter registration teams have been deployed to 730 Registration Center across the country.” The “teams were being manned by 880 Registration Officers.”
Calculating the differences between the resources used in 2011 and 2021 indicates that 94 more Registration Centers were employed in 2021 compared to 2011 which equates to approximately 15% increase. Meanwhile, 80 more Registration Officers have been contracted in 2021 compared to 2011 meaning that 10% more human resources have been contracted.
Increase in No. Registered Voters
Considering these figures, it can be seen that the increase of 100,906 Registered Voters from 2011 to 2021 translates to an increase of approximately 11% in the number of registered voters. This is not far from the percentage increase in resources.
The biggest increase in registered voters was observed in Brikama where an additional 79,710 voters have been registered. This perhaps indicates that a significant number of Gambians have migrated to Brikama combined with population growth. The second-highest increase is from Basse where an additional 10,647 voters have been registered.
On the other end of the spectrum is Kanifing and Banjul which are the only two Administrative Areas to record a decrease in the number of registered voters. Kanifing now has 12,325 fewer registered voters, while Banjul has registered 1,286 fewer voters than in 2011. Kanifing is known to be the second-most densely populated region after Brikama. Considering Rural-Urban migration and population growth it’s really surprising to see that over 12,000 fewer voters have registered in Kanifing. A significant number of Banjulians have migrated from the city so the reduced number of registered voters are not that alarming.