The Impact of Information on Voter Knowledge and Engagement: Evidence from the 2012 Elections in Sierra Leone (Policy Brief)

  • Search for Common Ground (SFCG) produced debates covering local and national issues between two sitting MPs of the two main political parties, representing different constituencies in the same geographic district. The authors worked with SFCG to pilot
    the effect of debates on voter knowledge and engagement.
  • Voter attendance was high and participants were visibly engaged. An analysis of pre and post- surveys suggests that:
    • The percentage of voters able to name the MPs and parties of the MPs increased.
    • Basic political knowledge increased from an average of 3.3 to 4.4 correct out of 8 questions (in regard to MPs roles, local issues, and re-election plans)
    • Knowledge regarding policy stances of the MPs on four issues increased from 2.5
      to 4.4 out of 8 questions.
  • We will submit incumbent report cards to a sample of incumbent MPs and Local Councilors (LC) to the relevant nominating committees prior to the nomination process to analyze whether incumbents nomination rates are affected by report cards.
  • An evaluation was conducted regarding parliamentary attendance and committee participation. Mean attendance is presence at 77 of 106 Parliament sittings and 57% attendance for committee meetings.
  • A nationwide opinion poll was conducted in partnership with a major mobile network. The survey asked for opinions on sitting MPs, sitting LCs and political perceptions. Preliminary analysis suggests had that nearly half of respondents are
    dissatisfied with their MPs, with a slightly higher opinion of their LCs.