Despite fierce disapproval from the opposition, government is making good its promise to have national multi purpose ID cards available to all Dominicans.
Chief Elections Officer Stephen LaRocque, said cards will be introduced on the island later this year.
“We should start issuing cards by October of this year,” LaRocque told state-owned DBS Radio on Friday.
The matter has been one of long running contention between the government and the opposition United Workers Party (UWP).
The UWP is adamant that voter ID cards are necessary since it was recommended both by the Chief Elections Officer in a report in 2009 and an OAS observer mission to Dominica.
Furthermore, according to the party, voter ID cards will help “clean up the voter’s list” and make “voters of this country independent.”
But according to LaRocque, the new cards will be for more than just voting. “It’s not only to use for voting, it can also be used to access government services because the government is also doing the health system, putting things in electronically, so when you have this card you can also access the government health services,” he said.
LaRocque stated that the Dominica’s laws specify that some form of identification is needed when voting, “so the commission has decided that this card meets the requirement for identification purposes hence it can be used for voting.”
“Once you are a registered elector, a voter registration number will be inserted on that card,” he said.
He pointed out that the introduction of the cards is in keeping with a project approved by the World Bank for Dominica, St. Lucia, Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines with the island contributing US $785, 000 to have it implemented.
LaRocque stated that based on cost, a multi-purpose card is the way to go. “We have had interaction with different companies in terms of the cost which has been presented to the government by different chiefs,” he remarked. “When you look at the cost and you are getting this thing at a more reasonable cost the commission decided it doesn’t matter what you call it, once it meets the requirements of the law to identify you, it is okay with the commission.”
At a Labour Party rally on March 12, Health Minister, Julius Timothy, revealed that 100,000 multi-purpose ID cards could be made available to Dominicans by the end of 2013.