Chairman of the Electoral Commission in Dominica, Gerald Burton has said that the political will to facilitate the process of electoral reform in Dominica, is lacking.
Speaking at a panel discussion on the electoral process at the Goodwill parish Hall on Wednesday, Burton said that for two years, the Commission has had available to it, the equipment, the technology and the draft legislation which will make it possible to introduce ID cards as part of the voting process and assist in verifying the accuracy of the list of electors which will go a long way in modernizing Dominica’s electoral system in keeping with international standards.
“However,” he stated, “it appears that we have not had the political will, to engage in a sober and reasonable type discussion necessary to reach a compromise on the singular issue which divides us.”
“I am of the view,” Burton continued, “that we cannot allow our nation to descend into chaos over the failure of those of us charged with the constitutional responsibility to resolve this issue in a civil and mature manner.”
According to him, throughout the discussions on the voter identification system, both at the Commission and in public discourse, he has made his views clear that unless there is sufficient time to introduce the new system and to “satisfy ourselves through proper testing that it is fully operational, I would not recommend that it be used in any upcoming elections.”
“I maintain this position,” Burton insisted.
However, Opposition leader and leader of the United Workers Party (UWP), Lennox Linton who, along with UWP Senator Felix Thomas, represented the UWP at the discussion, lamented the fact no progress has been made with regard to electoral reform which the Electoral Commission promised since 2008.
“Electoral reform is not rocket science nor is it nuclear physics.” Linton stated.
“The agenda is simple. We have done our best to outline an accurate registered voters [list]…we believe a total re-registering of all eligible voters is the best way to clear out the list over a six months period and must be done exclusively in Dominica by the Commission and be guided by the residence criteria for voter registration,” the Opposition leader said. “The people are not interested in electoral deform, they are only interested in electoral reform and that’s the only way forward.”
He said all ID cards must be issued by the Electoral Commission in Dominica and accused the Commission of refusing to act, over the years, when the ruling Dominica Labour Party (DLP) government has engaged in “treating and also bribing – paying the tickets of overseas nationals to come home to vote, thereby gaining an unfair advantage.”
Linton went on to say, “We are a rule of law country; provisions must be engaged against bribery, treating and impersonation, illegal voting and election offences in general.”.
He called on the Commission to immediately set the machinery in motion to have voter ID and the cleansing of the electors list before the upcoming general election.