Attorney General (AG) Levi Peter is trashing suggestions that amendments to the Registration of Electors Act will allow Dominicans naturalized through the island’s Citizenship by Investment Program (CBI) to vote in General Elections.
The amendments are expected to go to parliament soon but they have raised some eyebrows.
Of particular concern is a section of the amendments for the confirmation for voting of Dominicans living overseas.
31.1 of the amendments reads, “In order to facilitate confirmation in accordance with this part of persons residing overseas, the office of any mission or embassy of the State or any other place approved by the Commission may be designated as a registration office and the registering, enrolment officer and assistant registering officer shall be appointed under the direction of the Chief Registering Officer for that purpose.”
Some are concerned that these overseas registration offices could be used by CBI citizens to register to vote.
But Peter said the matter is being misunderstood.
“Really what the Registration of Electors amendment does as is suggested, it introduces the provision for the introduction of the identification card to be used for voting which is something that has been asked for extensively,” he said in explaining the entire amendments. “It introduces a confirmation process which, I understand, is being completely misconstrued and misdescribed. I understand people are saying that citizens who have been naturalized by way of the Citizenship by Investment Program will be able to vote.”
He described that notion as ‘nonsense’ since according to law, citizens must live in Dominica for a period of time before they are eligible to register to vote.
“That is complete and utter nonsense, rubbish,” he said on state-owned DBS Radio. “The qualifications for registration that are in the Act as it stands, remain. One of them, the basic one, which means a CBI citizen who has not lived in Dominica cannot, repeat cannot, and double underline, cannot be registered to vote.”
He explained that one has to live in the relevant polling district in which they are registered for at least three months prior to registration.
“So, a CBI citizen who has not lived in Dominica, never lived in Dominica, never been to Dominica, if that’s the case, absolutely cannot meet that qualifying criterion, let alone the others,” Peter stated. “So he or she could not be registered and cannot vote.”
He also stated that those on the current electors’ list may not meet the criteria to vote in the next general election. He pointed out that it is being said all those on the current list will be confirmed to vote.
“That is not correct,” he remarked, explaining that those who are already on the list have to satisfy various criteria, “including, and I repeat, including to satisfy the enrollment officer that they have been in Dominica within the last five years preceding the point at which they are being confirmed.”
“So if you have not been in Dominica for ten years and you are going to confirm, you will not be confirmed,” Peter said. “You will be recorded as not meeting the criteria and you will be removed from the list.”
He said it is the Electoral Commission, not the government, that will determine various sites out of Dominica that will be used for the purpose of registering people to vote.