MONROVAI: The Justice in Chamber of the Supreme Court of Liberia, Jamesetta Howard Wolokollie, has mandated the National Elections Commission (NEC), to share copies of the Final Registration Roll (FRR) with the Court following a hearing into a separate Writ of Mandamus filed by two opposition political parties.
The mandate by Associate Justice Wolokollie comes after the Unity Party (UP) and the Liberian People’s Party (LPP) separately petitioned the Supreme Court to compel the electoral body to release the FRR, which accuracy is crucial to ensure the credibility of the October 10 Presidential and Legislative polls.
The FRR, which cannot be altered within 30 days to an election, except by a Supreme Court order, contains the names, and other important information of registered voters.
The electoral body has however not yet released the “voters roll” despite having nine days remaining for the conduct of the October 10 polls.
NEC insists that it is working diligently towards making the list available “in a secured format that would be made available to all stakeholders as soon as possible.”
The apparent delay has however been a focal point of contention in the lead-up to the elections, forcing the Unity Party (UP), and the Liberian People’s Party (LPP), that have now consolidated their lawsuits, to seek the order of the Supreme Court.
According to the two political parties, the release of the FRR is a key requirement aimed at ensuring the credibility of the October 10 elections.
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 petitioners are arguing that the electoral body’s failure to timely make available the voter roll warrants judicial intervention.
During the closed-door hearing mid last week, which lasted for several hours, the petitioners argued that they needed access to the vote roll to independently verify its accuracy.
According to the joint petition filed by the opposition parties, the electoral body is legally obligated, per the New Elections Law and an opinion of the Supreme Court, to publish and provide copies of the voting roll, disaggregated by locations in every electoral district across the country.
They cited the 2023 Voter Registration Regulations, which defined the “Final Registration Roll” as a list of registered voters eligible to vote, produced following the exhibition and resolution of voter appeals, claims, challenges, and necessary changes to “the provisional registration roll.”
The chairperson of the electoral body, petitioners noted, had made a solemn commitment to make available the final copies of the voter roll on September 18, during an appearance before the Senate while under oath.
However, the Unity Party and the Liberian People’s Party argued that the electoral body had failed to fulfill this statutory responsibility, despite being bound by their oath to do so.
The parties noted what they call unnecessary delay, that according to them, amounts to an irregularity that would undermine the credibility of votes cast on elections day.
The electoral body, on the other hand, maintained that they have not broken any law as claimed by the opposition parties.
They noted that the voter roll is being prepared and would be publicly released in time before the October 10 polls as it has been done during past elections.
However, the Justice in Chamber, who had listened carefully to both sides’ arguments, requested the electoral body to furnish the court with copies of the voter roll while reserving a ruling on the matter.