Elections Watch Committee (EWC) a non-partisan civic led election observer mission in the Gambia have released its findings on the voting process.
The report was gathered from 300 stationary observers deployed to polling streams proportionally nationwide as of 1:00pm on December 4 2021.
The findings focus on the set-up and opening of polling stations and streams.
“At this time, the EWC has received 100% of reports from its 300 stationary observers” the released states
Arrival at Polling Stream
“In all polling streams where Elections Watch observers are located, the Independent Electoral Commission staff respected the Elections Watch Observers’ status as accredited and permitted them to observe at the polling streams. Observers observed that at least 99% of the observed streams had at least one party agent present during the set up process; 70% of polling streams observed had at least four parties present which demonstrate parties’ interest and engagement in observing the voting process” the release indicates.
Its release adds: “In all polling streams where Elections Watch Observers are located, observers saw security personnel stationed. In polling streams where Elections Watch observed, the ballot drums were shown to be empty and ballot drums were sealed in a systematic manner.
However, the observers all noted that in 20% of polling streams noted that they had to climb stairs to reach the polling stream. “Stairs make the polling place inaccessible to persons with disabilities and elderly which may disenfranchise them from voting.”
According to the Elections Watch Observers, voting commenced on time in most of the observed stations. “By 8:15am, 93% of polling streams where Elections Watch Observers were assigned had opened. The remaining polling streams opened shortly thereafter, and all observed polling streams were opened by 10am
The Elections Watch Observers report also indicated that the set-up and opening process has been peaceful, orderly, and proceeding smoothly across the country.
“The Elections Watch Observers Committee recorded no serious critical incidents during the opening and set-up process. The EWC did receive some reports or arguments occurring over disorderly queuing or who should be given priority to vote; these incidents were quickly resolved. The EWC did receive a report of a security official slapping a voter who demanded to be allowed to be given priority because he was ill,” the report states.
The group also forwarded their recommendations to the parties and officials of the elections body to be further put into consideration.
By Omar Faye