Roseau, Dominica – September 7, 2018 – The Electoral Commission welcomes the announcement of Government’s intention to very shortly table before Parliament, revised versions of the proposed amendments of the House of Assembly (Elections) Act and the Registration of Electors Act.
The proposed amendments will allow for the introduction of the National Identification Card, which will be issued to new electors, as well as to those registered electors whose eligibility to remain on the registers have been confirmed.
For almost 30 years, successive Electoral Commissions and Chief Elections Officers have urged the introduction of identification cards, as a means of authenticating the identity of voters. Over the past two years, approximately EC$3.2 million dollars have been spent by the State, to allow the Commission to undertake the design and development of a National Identity System, which would allow for the modernisation of the electoral process.
The Commission already has in place, all of the physical infrastructure required for the enrolment of electors and issuance of National Identification cards. This infrastructure also includes hand-held devices which would be available in each polling station and have the capacity to match the biometric data captured on enrolment, with the elector bearing the card.
The Commission now awaits the passage of the legislation, to enable the selection, appointment and training of enrolment and verification officers, as well as undertake a comprehensive voter education campaign to inform all stakeholders on the new procedures.
Prior to Government’s recent announcements, the Commission, being concerned by the delay in the passage of the legislative amendments, indicated its intention to undertake a voter verification exercise, in an effort at improving the accuracy of the registers of electors. The Commission has always been of the view that the confirmation process provided for by the amending legislation would be the more effective means of achieving this objective. Passage of these amendments, therefore, would render the proposed verification exercise unnecessary.
It is important at this stage, to note certain aspects of the proposed amendments:
– That the Identification Card system, enrolment and confirmation process, will be entirely under the control of the Electoral Commission and the Chief Elections Officer;
– It is the Commission which will declare the confirmation period and any extensions thereto;
– The Commission will select and appoint the Enrolment and Verification Officers and the Electoral Office will be responsible for their training;
– The Commission will determine the location and facilities for establishment of Enrolment Centres both locally and overseas and the schedule of enrolment and confirmation;
– The eligibility requirements for the registration of new voters shall remain unchanged. Therefore only persons who are citizens of the Commonwealth of Dominica, or citizens of a Commonwealth country who have resided in Dominica for at least 12 months prior to registration and who are 18 years or older and who have resided in a polling district for a continuous period of at least 3 months, are qualified to vote in elections in Dominica. Therefore, absolutely no registration of new electors will take place outside of Dominica and neither will any person, whether a citizen of Dominica or of the Commonwealth, be eligible for registration if he does not satisfy the requisite qualifying period;
The public is reminded that notwithstanding the proposed amendments, it has always been and remains the law, that any person who alleges that a registered elector is not entitled to remain on the register, may file a formal objection in Form 4 of the Regulations, with the Registering Officer for his polling district. The law establishes a due process mechanism for reviewing and determining such objections.
The Electoral Commission is satisfied that the proposed amendments are in the best interest of the democratic process in Dominica and urges all stakeholders, to give effective support to the speedy passage and implementation.