By Yusef Taylor, @FlexDan_YT
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) released its fifth update highlighting that 856,719 voters cards have been issued by the end of the fifth week of Voters Registration. Gainako’s calculations show that the IEC must issue almost 143,300 voters cards in week six to meet their 1 million registered voters target. Considering that only 136,325 voters cards were issued in week 5 alone it appears unlikely that 143,300 voters cards will be issued in week six to meet the target. The voters’ registration process started on 29th May 2021 and is set to conclude next week 11th July 2021.
The chart below highlights that the number of registered voters has been tailing off every week and that difference continues to increase. Calculations show that the first week featured almost 7,000 fewer voters compared to the second week. Although the difference between weeks 2 and 3 was a reasonable 4,000 Registered Voters, the gap widened considerably in weeks 4 and 5.
The big drop in registered voters began to widen when week 4 featured 17,000 fewer voters than week 3. This trend continued in week 5 as over 27,000 fewer voters registered last week compared to week 4. This shows that if the IEC, Political Stakeholders including CSOs and the Media don’t do something to reverse this trend the 1 Million Registered Voters Target will almost certainly not be achieved.
The news will disappoint Civil Society Advocates anticipating an increase in the number of registered voters from the Rock the Vote Concert. The Rock the Vote Concert [which I am involved in] aimed to encourage first-time voters to register for a voters card. This was done by staging a concert featuring some of the most popular Gambian Artists and Entertainers including ST Brikama Boyo, Jizzle, Miss Jobiz, Attack, Awa Bling, Bright Stars Entertainment, Barhama and Killa Ace to name a few. Attendees to the show had to show a voter’s card to receive a free ticket to watch their stars perform.
Statistics show that 27,303 fewer voters registered in week 5 compared to week 4 which is not a good sign.
IEC’s Joe Colley says “Extension Unlikely”
One of the main concerns from the public is the extension of the Voters Registration period. This question was posed to the IEC during a dialogue with Political Stakeholders organised by the Center for Research and Policy Development (CRPD) on 25th June 2021.
IEC Vice-Chairperson, Joe Colley told delegates present that “we’re talking about extension we cannot give what we cannot have because we have a budget which you know the history of. I don’t want to go into it. So, we have 220 teams and we think if definitely, Gambians don’t want to do what is called “WAIT” West African International Time, or Gambian Time. Because definitely the first week if you look at the figures people came out in mass. They will wait until the fifth and sixth week and they start coming again.”
In Mr Colley’s view, Gambians are fond of “last minute, so we keep on waiting and waiting until at the end of the day you haven’t registered and begin demanding more time to register. What were you doing? Some people will sit from morning to evening drinking Atayaa “local Chinese tea” doing nothing. At the end of the day, they start demanding an extension. I don’t want to pre-empt but I don’t think there will be any need for that.”
The chart below demonstrates that women continue to outnumber men at the registration centres. Currently, there are 488,000 Registered Female Voters compared to 368,000 Registered Male voters. This means that 57% of all registered voters are female compared to only 43% of male voters.