By Jamal Adel.
Tripoli, 13 December 2013:
So far, just under quarter of a million people have registered to vote in the elections for the 60-member committee that will draw up Libya’s new constitution. According to Haider Badrush, in charge the local media relations at the High National Elections Commission (HNEC), 242,956 people had registered up until yesterday by texting their names and national ID numbers to HNEC’s phone number. Of these, around just over a third were women and nearly two-thirds men.
Quite apart from the delays caused by the debate about how the Committee should be selected, the election process is way behind schedule. It had been hoped that the elections would take place this month but that is now seen as impossible. Even next month is viewed as unrealistic.
The number of people who have registered is less than ten percent of the 2.7 million who registered for the elections for the General National Congress (GNC) in July last year. Of those, just under 1.7 million actually voted.
Although campaigning by candidates is supposed to start in ten day’s time, it is believed that registration will be now have to be extended beyond the end of the month. “There needs to be at least one million registered voters and a high turnout [at the time of the poll]”, an election official said, “otherwise the Constitutional Committee will not be accepted”.
There are reports that in a bid to increase number, HNEC is considering starting paper registration at local voter centres in addition to the current SMS system. However, this has not yet been confirmed.
One of the reasons believed to be responsible for the low registration numbers is that voters have to register every time there are fresh elections. In the past year and a half, would-be voters have registered separately for local elections, the GNC elections, municipal elections and now the Constitutional Committee elections. Registration fatigue may be setting in.
Another problem, according to the head of data administration in the HNEC, Fadia Al-Shweekh, is that the civil registry department, with which HNEC has been collaborating, has been experiencing problems verifying registrations details. Among the various problems, apparently, is the fact that so many people do not live in their place of birth, which has been making it hard to assign them to election centres.
This does not appear to have been a problem for the municipal elections, which has also been working with the local civil registries and using mobile phone texting for registration.