Mapping Lebanon I: An interactive map showing registered voter data by district

BEIRUT — To provide a reference for information on the population and demographics of registered voters around the country ahead of the May 15 parliamentary elections, L’Orient Today and L’Orient-Le Jour have mapped the Lebanese voter rolls — a total of 3.97 million records — from the Ministry of the Interior.

In the interactive map above, we present the number of resident and expatriate registered voters in each minor district, as well as the sectarian breakdown within each area. Hover your mouse to view further details for each district.

While all Lebanese over the age of 21 are automatically registered to vote by the Ministry—with the exception of people who have been deprived of their civil rights following a criminal conviction—the voter rolls should not be seen as equal to the over-21 population of the country, or of each electoral district.

Because Lebanese voters are registered in the district where their father was registered— or their husband in the case of married women—regardless of their location of residency, the population of each district’s residents can be expected to differ from the voter registry.

On a national level the voter rolls overestimate some segments of the resident population because citizens who live outside the country remain registered voters and, if they did not register to vote from overseas, their place on the domestic voter lists is indistinguishable from those of residents. Many emigrants fly back to Lebanon to cast ballots in their home districts on election day, but the majority of emigrants who did not register to vote overseas will probably not participate in the election.

In addition, an unknown number of Lebanese do not register the deaths of family members with the authorities. The deceased then remain on the voter rolls until their age reaches 100, when all voters are automatically de-registered, or until their families notify authorities of their passing. (Voters over the age of 100 can apply to the Interior Ministry to be re-added to the voter list.)

While it is unclear how large the phenomenon of unreported decedents remaining on the voter list is, other data suggests it may be significant. For instance, in 2019 the United Nations estimated the over-65 population of Lebanon for the year 2020 to be 11–13 percent of the over-21 population. Taking Lebanon’s most populous electoral district, South III, as a case study, nearly 15 percent of voters on the rolls are over the age of 65, higher than the population proportion estimated by the UN.

A Directorate General of Civil Status official who requested anonymity in order to discuss internal procedures insists, however, that there is little risk of the deceased casting ballots because voters’ photo ID cards are checked against the Ministry’s records before ballots are cast in order to ensure that the voter’s ID corresponds to the entry in the registry.

The official also told L’Orient Today there is a known issue of duplicate records in certain circumstances, such as when a married woman who gets added to the voter registry in her husband’s district is not removed from the registry in her parents’ district. While, “in Lebanon anything is possible,” the official said these duplicates do not pose a risk to election integrity either, because voters must show a match between their voter registration file and their photo ID number, which does not change before or after marriage, and are also required to dip their finger in indelible ink, which would prevent double-voting.

On the other hand, the voter rolls could undercount some communities because some Lebanese do not register the births of children who are entitled to citizenship. A 2021 study by the UN refugee agency and Siren, an international not-for-profit company that focuses on public sector reform, estimated that half of stateless people in the Akkar region were born to Lebanese fathers but not registered with the authorities when they were born. An earlier 2019 study by the same group estimated 63 percent of Tripoli’s stateless residents were cases of people eligible for citizenship not being registered.

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