Carter Center Expresses Concern About Transparency of the Tabulation Process in Sierra Leone Elections

Read Preliminary Statement »

Voters stand in line in Sierra Leone

FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE (June 27, 2023) — In a preliminary statement released today, The Carter Center expresses concern about transparency and calls for calm as the tabulation of results is underway in Sierra Leone’s June 24 election.

As the process continues, it is important for all Sierra Leoneans to await the announcement of final results by the Electoral Commission for Sierra Leone (ECSL), which has sole authority to declare results. The Center urges key political leaders to act responsibly and in the interest of all Sierra Leone’s people, consistent with the spirit of the Peace Pledge signed by all parties.

The Carter Center mission visited 119 polling stations on election day and observed tallying processes in all five centers. Key findings of the Carter Center mission regarding the voting, counting, and tabulation process to date include the following:

• Poll openings. Carter Center observers report that some polling stations opened late on election day due to a lack of material.

• Voting process. The voting process was assessed by Carter Center observers as “reasonable” or “very good” in 93 percent of polling stations observed. In some polling stations prospective voters were noted who claimed to be registered at a polling station where their names could not be found on the list. Some polling stations in Freetown had insufficient ballot papers and ran out in the mid-afternoon.

• Closing and counting. Closing and counting procedures were assessed positively at 100% of poll closings observed.

• Tabulation. Carter Center observers reported that the tabulation process lacked adequate levels of transparency. Carter Center observers directly observed instances of broken seals and inappropriately open ballot boxes in three of the five tally centers.

The Carter Center offers the following priority recommendations:

• Results from any ballot boxes that were opened in violation of procedure and international best practice should be set aside for additional scrutiny and should not be included in the final results until a formal, transparent, and inclusive review can establish whether they can be considered credible.

• The ECSL should publish detailed results at the polling station level to allow for cross-verification in accordance with international best practice.

The Carter Center was honored to observe the elections in Sierra Leone, with voters casting ballots for president, members of Parliament, city mayors, and local councilors. The elections – the fifth general elections in the country since the end of the decade-long civil war – took place in an atmosphere that was largely calm, with the people of Sierra Leone demonstrating their enthusiasm and determination to peacefully express their will at the ballot box.

The Carter Center has been involved in Sierra Leone’s elections since 2002. For the June 24 elections, the Center deployed observers across all of Sierra Leone’s 16 electoral districts. Carter Center observers have been observing the tabulation process in the five regional centers, maintaining 24 hours a day presence in the Western area and nearly 24 hours a day in other regions.

Carter Center Preliminary Statement on Sierra Leone’s 2023 National Elections (PDF) »


Contact: In Atlanta, Maria Cartaya,
In Freetown, Nicholas Jahr,

The Carter Center
Waging Peace. Fighting Disease. Building Hope.

A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in over 80 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; and improving mental health care. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.