Liberia: The Lofa Election Is A Flashing Red Light


The NEC Chairwoman’s public statement that the “print page” displayed incorrect data because of “attempted hacking” is categorically false.  If the “attempted hacking” caused data to be displayed incorrectly, the “hack” was SUCCESSFUL.

Opinion by George Fahnbulleh, [email protected], Contributing Writer

This statement and the level of falsehood, dishonesty, and incompetence it contains is shocking.  From a technical standpoint, this is a REPORTING SYSTEM that should display NO DATA ON WHICH the operations that can CHANGE the data can be executed.

There are four (4) data operations that can be performed on every Relational Database Management System (RDBMS).  Those are known as CRUD operations:

Create – add new records to a table

Read – retrieve record(s) from a table

Update – change the data in a record

Delete – remove a record from a table

Reporting systems, like the NEC’s results, ONLY ALLOW READ operations nothing else.  All of the tabulations are simply aggregations of the data that has been read.

For the NEC to claim that data was changed due to “attempted hacking” would point to some very serious technical deficiencies in the organization’s capabilities.  Why would any such system allow live data to be on a public-facing site? 

The short and only answer is SHE LIED.  What is concerning is SHE LIED not because there was a fraud.  she lied to cover up their incompetence.  Their incompetence in their ability to write the queries that aggregate the data for specific precincts correctly.  This is a FUNDAMENTAL requirement of any reporting system.

I was able to inspect the page source code.  What I found was they copied a completely different system and tried to make it work for elections.

Instead of the NEC having a reporting infrastructure with standardized reporting platform/tools, they decided to “build” their own, by using a personnel reporting system and trying to fit it into an election system.  The code snippet posted here shows what happens when someone clicks the “print” button. This function passes a variable “employee_id” to the query that reads the data for the “precint2” page and displays the “employee_datail” in a modal (popup) page.

Well it is obvious this did not work and the calculations are wrong, the NEC has not been able to fix this after 6 days.  Here’s the problem:  the NEC just conducted an election in 2020 for Montserrado county.  How is it that they were able to correctly tabulate and report those results correctly and two years later they cannot?  The answer is that they do not have any tools they have STANDARDIZED ON.  So every time they bring in a contractor he/she brings in THEIR OWN TOOLS.

Today we have “hacking” is being used to mask incompetence.  Next year, if this is not addressed, incompetence will be used to mask actual fraud.

The parties should be calling for the resignation of the NEC chairwoman, as she has lost the trust and confidence of the public.  She lied about the reason for the error in the reporting of the elections. The NEC was NEVER hacked.  It was a system error. If the Chairwoman cannot be trusted to give the Liberian people correct and proper information, especially when there are errors in the tabulation of election data, she cannot be trusted to oversee and conduct a presidential election.

The political parties have an obligation to their constituents to DEMAND a technical inspection of the entire NEC database and reporting system and SIGN OFF on the system PRIOR to the freezing of the voter rolls.  It is malfeasance to do otherwise!