20 July 2011

The Gambia: Independent Electoral Commission’s fuzzy math and impossible numbers

By Mathew K Jallow
As the elections of 2011 draw near, speculations about the credibility of the voter register dominate the political debate, casting doubt on the entire electoral process. At issue is the possible registration of minors and non-citizens, which has created the inflated number registered voters in this election cycle. The number of voters registered for the 2011 election season does not support the approximate birth and deaths rates evidence. In these elections, the IEC announced the registration of a total of 869,000 voters, which is an increase of 199, 000 new voters from the 670,000 registered in the 2006 elections. This increase represents a 3.3% population increase, which is higher than the 2.5% birth rate or population increase rate over the past several census cycles. Apart from that, the year’s number of registered voters assumes of that everyone born in 1988 and 1993 is alive, and eligible to vote for the first time in 2011 elections.  Gambians born in 1988 were 17 years in 2006 and were not eligible to cast ballots in that year’s elections, but would be only eligible to vote in 2011 when they would turn 22 years, and those born in 1993 would be eligible to vote this year the year they will turn 18 years.  At a 2.5% annual birth rate, The Gambia would have had approximately 93,995 new born babies each year between 1988 and 1993, or a total of 224,733 new voters for the five year period 1988 to 1993. But this  number does not take into account the annual death rate is 37 out of every 1000 people or roughly 17,979 deaths per year or 89,893 deaths over five years between the two election cycles 2006 and 2011. But if the approximate 89,893 deaths since the 2006 election is deducted from 224,773 additional new voters born between 1988 and 1993, it would leave a total of 134,880 new voters to be eligible for this year’s elections. But this number too does not take into account, the number of Gambians of voting age who live outside the country, or who for whatever reason choose not to register, which can be very conservatively estimate 50,000.  It finally comes down to 134,880 and 50,000 voters or 184,880 new registered voters who are either minors or non Gambian nationals.

1. IEC’s 2011 registered voters – 869,000
          2006 registered voters –     670,000
   Difference ———————–199,000 new voters in 2011

2. Gambia population 2011———————————————1,797, 860 people
     2.5% annual birth rate 1988-1993; 93995/year———————-224,773 five years

3. 37 out of every 1000 deaths/ year=17,979/5 years 1988/93———-89,893 deaths

4. Births 1988/1993 were 224,773 less the deaths for the same period 89, 893, which equals134, 880 new voters. But the IEC registered 199,000 additional new voters instead of 134,880. The difference is 65,120 new voters who are minors and non citizens, and therefore ineligible to vote. But if we factor in other variables the ineligible voters will be between 65,120 to 100,000 voters. What this boils down to is that the IEC registered between 65,120 to 100,000 who are non-eligible either by age or nationality. The IEC must sort out this mess; otherwise it will make a mockery of the entire electoral process.

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