PAYNESVILLE, Montserrado – With five months to the presidential and legislative elections, NAYMOTE Partners for Democratic Development has conducted a public opinion poll on citizens’ perception of the current lawmakers in Liberia, revealing that 65 percent of registered voters are disappointed with their current lawmakers.
Overall, only 28 percent of the 2,860 registered voters responding to the survey said they have a favorable opinion of lawmakers while seven percent had no opinion.
It comes as no surprise, then, that 66 percent of respondents said they planned to vote during the October 10 election; 34 percent are still undecided about whether they planned to vote, the majority of whom are women.
The survey targeted 1,640 males and 1,220 females in 20 electoral districts from nine of the fifteen counties, including Montserrado, Bong, Margibi, Lofa, Nimba, Bomi, Grand Bassa, Grand Cape Mount, and Grand Gedeh.
Speaking during a press conference at NAYMOTE’s office in Paynesville, Executive Director Eddie Jarwolo noted that the objective of the poll was to understand the perception of voters about the lawmakers and issues they want addressed by those seeking public offices. He said NAYMOTE also planned to use the results to design a civic engagement program.
Jarwolo said 59 percent of the respondents said they were satisfied with the current security environment in the country while three percent said they are unsure.
“With respect to their development needs, 80 percent of respondents identified education, [the] economy, and health as the most important issues they care about and want political parties or representative candidates to address when they are elected,” he indicated.
The poll was conducted using a “phone-bank” system of over 9,235 names and contact details of registered voter in the 73 electoral districts in Liberia, Jarwolo said. Eight enumerators were trained in random sampling methodology to conduct the survey.
The 2011 elections saw a low turnout in the runoff election and the retention rating of lawmakers was 34 percent, meaning that most the representatives who contested for re-election were rejected at the polls by the voters. Similarly, of the thirteen Senators who ran in the 2014 Special Senatorial election, only two were re-elected.
“With this survey findings revealing that 65 percent of registered voters are dissatisfied with the representational performance of the current lawmakers, [lawmakers] need to do more work to convince the voters that they desire to be re-elected,” Jarwolo said.
He said NAYMOTE would work with the media and other organizations to conduct a civic education campaign to convince disappointed citizens to participate in the upcoming election.
“We are giving you, the media, the information and we expect you to take it out to the public and those lawmakers, discussing the issues and encouraging and making sure that they turn out to vote because only their votes can make a change,” Jarwolo said.
“We will take this survey report to the lawmakers and make them realize that their people are disappointed in their representative functions and if they do not do anything about it, the possibility of them being reelected is less.”
The demographic breakdown for the poll was informed by the 2014 voter registration listing from the National Elections Commission. According to that list, young people between the ages of 18 to 32 constituted 55 percent of registered voters. Accordingly, those above the age of 38 constituted only 10 percent of the respondents to the poll.
NAYMOTE is a good governance and research institution that works to promote democracy, transparency, and participatory governance in Liberia, with a primary focus on the youth. Since 2001, the group has initiated and implemented several programs to foster political accountability, enhancing dialogue between lawmakers and their constituents, thereby making elected leaders more accessible and accountable to their people.
Featured photo courtesy of Moses Bailey