As the elections of 2011 draw near, speculations about the credibility of the voter register dominate the political debate, casting doubts on the entire electoral process. At issue is the possible registration of minors and non-citizens, which has created the inflated number of 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 of 2006 and 2011.