Elections systems report raises doubts about NIS database

Stabroek News
August 10, 2001

An audit of the systems for the March 19 elections has raised concerns about the accuracy of the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) database after numerous duplications were detected and the findings have been raised with the Chairman of the body, Dr Roger Luncheon who reportedly said that they confirm his suspicions of the register.

Auditors from the Sweden-based Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) undertook a review of the systems for the March 19 elections in June/July and as part of their work wanted to compare the Official List of Electors (OLE) with the NIS' database.

In their report released yesterday, IDEA said that it tested for duplications of individuals on the NIS database. It employed two methods: the first compared entries for surname + first name + middle name + birth date while the second encompassed surname + first name + birth date.

The IDEA auditors found that there were 12, 800 duplicates in the first category in the NIS database with up to five duplications per instance. This, it said , compares with the 62 persons detected using the same test on the OLE.

In the second category there were 17,218 duplicates with up to five duplications per instance compared to 255 cases found on the OLE.

"We have discussed our findings with Dr Roger Luncheon, the chairman of the NIS, and he agreed that these findings confirmed his suspicions about the NIS database", the report said. These findings limited IDEA's use of the NIS's database for comparisons with the OLE.

A demographic test of the NIS database also suggested there were flaws in it. The database was broken down into age groups and the distribution was found not to be in consonance with established patterns, the report said. There was also an anomaly in the gender breakdown which was out of sync with the Statistics Bureau projection and the US Central Intelligence Agency figure.

The IDEA team concluded that the OLE database was superior to the NIS' and that the country can benefit if the OLE is used to update registers at agencies such as the NIS and the General Registrar's Office.