OPINION: We should not let the democracy of our nation erode under our watch – APP

Interim president of the Alternative People’s Party, Tahira Blanchard. Photo taken from APP website

In a July 18, 2007 statement to Parliament on the occasion of the opening of the First Meeting of the third Session of the Seventh Parliament, Dr. N.J.O Liverpool, the deceased former President of Dominica, said that while voting is a civic right, “there are certain legislative requirements such as citizenship, age of majority and residence” which guard that right to vote.

Dr. Liverpool further stated as follows:

“The Constitution provides that every person whose name is entered in the register of voters in any constituency is entitled to vote in an election of Representatives for that constituency. In order to be registered the intended elector must either be a citizen of Dominica or a Commonwealth citizen over the age of eighteen years, and must have resided in the particular polling district for a continuous period of three months immediately preceding the date of registration. In addition, the Commonwealth citizen must have resided in Dominica for a period of twelve months before the qualifying date for registration.”

The matters raised by Dr. Liverpool are enshrined in the electoral laws of Dominica. As we continue to look to the past for guidance on the onward journey, we believe that such wisdom should not be shunned, especially as the former deceased President served as Head of State during the present incumbent party’s stint as majority party in the government of Dominica.

It is our view that the democracy of our country is being stretched to its limits to serve the interest of a select few. Recent statements of the newly installed member of the Dominica Electoral Commission, attorney-at-law, Lennox Lawrence, and past electoral behaviors of the party which has nominated him as commissioner, bear testimony to that.

The commissioner’s call for a lowering of the residency period for voting eligibility can be fixed very easily. In fact, we believe that Dominicans should vote any and every time, irrespective of their location at the time of the vote. This is the thinking behind APP’s Vote In Place (VIP) initiative. VIP allows every Dominican the privilege to vote where ever they reside for overseas government representatives of their choosing.

In both cases – that which is being proposed by Commissioner Lawrence and the APP’s VIP initiative, there will be need to revisit LAWS OF DOMINICA HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY (ELECTIONS) ACT, CHAPTER 2:01.

Our VIP would, however, take away all the ambiguities in, and debate over, the overseas based Dominicans and whether they qualify or not, to vote in Dominica’s elections.

Our VIP proposal is simple and it is in the democratic electoral interest of all:

  1. Reregistration of voters as prescribed by the Dominica Electoral Commission (2009), the joint Organization of American States (OAS), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Commonwealth mission (2014);
  1. Voters names which do not reappear in the new registration and who are residing overseas will be able to vote where they reside, if the signup with Dominica’s new overseas registration protocols by presenting their citizenship credentials with an embassy of the government of Dominica or an approved government agency;
  1. All overseas Dominicans who were once registered and follow the protocols listed in # 2 (above) will cast an electronic vote from their location for diaspora representatives to serve the interests of the Diaspora constituents and the nation on a whole.

With our recommendation, all parties will benefit equally and every Dominican will have an opportunity to vote. The nation’s democracy will also be preserved and transportation of voters into Dominica would no longer be necessary. There are other aspects to VIP which will be placed on the table during discussions with the people and electoral/legislative officials.

We patiently await an audience with the Dominica Electoral Commission, which should be the only authority administering to such reforms. Any expertise, including that of Sir Dennis Byron who has been single-handedly appointed by the majority party is also welcome, and APP also looks forward to having a conversation with the learned judicial luminary and the other interested parties.

Let us reform Dominica’s electoral processes together, because we are all interested in the democratic development of our blessed land.

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7 Comments

  1. L C Matthew
    September 28, 2020

    This does not solve the problem. The debate is not whether overseas voters can vote or not. It is clear that you can vote if you reside overseas if you meet certain prescribed conditions. The problem is our 3 branches of government has not worked to ensure laws are adhered to. The government should make it possible for all its citizens to vote. The problem is the selection of who comes to vote and providing finance for a select few is wrong and exploitation of the system. This is bribery and our judicial branch of government has not done its job at curtailing illegality. It is not practical to buy tickets for everyone but elections is every 5 years so if it means a lot to you plan accordingly. How are you going to police VIP when we cannot police VID (vote in Dominica) why are we fixing a situation when the legality is not settled by our judiciary? For this to work needs a culture of integrity, transparency, and respect for our laws. I don’t see that happening in this kleptocracy.

  2. jaded
    September 26, 2020

    Although I believe that people in the diaspora should be allowed to vote by absentee ballot, I doubt that Skerrit will do it. If the additional 50K to 70K Dominicans vote they may create a surprise that Skerrit may not like.

  3. Ibo France
    September 26, 2020

    Under the dubious stewardship of Roosevelt Skerrit, Dominica has most definitely transitioned from a constitutional DEMOCRACY into a constitutional AUTOCRACY. Democracy has been taken to the gallows and executed.

    False arrests, bogus criminal charges, a corrupt electoral system,, no bidding for government contracts, no transparency or accountability with billions of CBI monies and more abnormalities have contributed to the corrosion of democratic norms in Dominica.

    The immediate restoration of democratic practices is of urgent significance if prosperity for all or most Dominicans is to become a reality. Only the collective will and efforts of all patriotic Dominicans will restore our DEMOCRACY to good health.

    Well-loved. Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0
  4. RoRo
    September 26, 2020

    I do agree with you, Democracy is under serious threat in DA. However, not only Democracy but also common decency, accountability and rule of law. It’s 5 to 12 and the next election will determine if DA remains a democracy.

  5. RastarMarn
    September 25, 2020

    The Electoral commissioner should not be a long term Crony of the current administration, so to the Speaker of the House; but rather be a publicly elected official who would have to be reputable and state their case of non-bias agenda to the general public for whom they should be representing,,,

    This new rule just appears to be taking away the rights of the citizenry whom are engraved in the struggles of the current administration whomever they are at that time, and place their fate in the hands of some folks whom are living in foreign established economies, whom won’t feel the direct effects of their political choice(s),,,
    If allyou want any change in this political struggles do these things:
    Establish legislation(s) for the term limits for political seats including but not limited to the Permanent Secretariat Positions,,,
    Establish Legislation for “Election Day” that annual day set by law for the general elections of governmental officials,,,

    Start there then we will…

  6. September 25, 2020

    Another pretty girl in the beauty contest and her BS. More food for thought.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 10
    • Eagle-Eyed
      September 26, 2020

      Don’t Trol the girl for her looks man, you should be happy she is part of another opposition party. The more opposition parties that form, the better for Labour. Labour party supporters tend to remain loyal to the labour party whereas the remaining voters split their votes among the parties in opposition. The more parties in opposition the better for Skerrit and Labour. Skerrit should offer funding to others wanting to set up their own opposition parties. :twisted: :twisted: :twisted:

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