Plans to begin issuing the Multi-Purpose Identification Card (MPID) in October this year were discussed at a public consultation exercise at the Portsmouth Credit Union Hall on Thursday July 18, 2013.
In 2012, the Government of Dominica decided to implement National ID Cards which would be used for voting purposes during general elections.
The MPID project is part of a regional sub project among O.E.C.S countries to integrate electronically government systems and services.
The electoral commission is the body responsible for the issuance and administration of the MPID system in Dominica.
Chairman of the Electoral Commission Gerald Burton, during Thursday’s meeting, explained the purpose of the multi-purpose identification card.
“That card is intended to provide one unique means of identification for O.E.C.S citizens. Not everyone has a passport, social security card or a driver’s license and the multi-purpose identification card presents a unique opportunity for all citizens to have a means by which they can be identified but more importantly a means of identification that is authentic, and meets international standards,” Burton explained.
Burton said this move to implement the MPID is in keeping with Government’s decision to issue a national identification card instead of a voter id card.
He went on to state that the Commission had no difficulty in moving forward with Government’s recommendation.
“The Electoral Commission has over a number of years, proposed the introduction of an identification card for use in elections as a means of identifying persons who appear at the polling stations. The law as it is right now gives the power to the Chief Elections officer to utilize some form of identification card as part of that process and so the commission has always taken the position that we ought to go in the direction that most other countries in the Caribbean and indeed in the world have introduced as part of the Electoral process and i.e. a unique identification card,” he noted.
Burton added that the Government of Dominica agreed that the multi-purpose Identification Cards would be used in the voting process during General elections.
“The Government is of the view that rather than issue identification card for only election purposes, a national identification card would serve multiple purposes. The Commission took the view that we had no difficulty with such a card providing that it met the criteria that the commission had identified as being required for purposes of elections,” informed Burton.
He explained that the Government of Dominica agreed that such a system would be managed by the Electoral Commission.
“We have had the opportunity to examine the MPID and the Commission became satisfied that the O.E.C.S proposed MPID met the criteria that we felt was required for the purposes of elections and its is for that reason that we indicated to the Government that we were prepared to utilize the MPID for purposes of election but on the basis that the control and management of such a system would be within the control of the Electoral Commission since the commission is constitutionally mandated to oversee the registration of electors and the conduct of elections in Dominica,” Burton remarked.
He said that while every citizen and resident would be entitled to receive a multi-purpose identification card, not everyone who receives such a card would be entitled to vote.
“It is important that we underscore that the MPID system is separate and apart and is totally independent from the Electoral system. The Electoral Commission in the last year has brought the electoral system in house. A new system has been designed and is located within the Electoral office and that system is totally independent from every other Government system and will be independent from the MPID system,” he noted.
“When once you have been registered on the MPID, if you are also registered as an elector then your registration number of election purposes will be put on that card. If you are not registered as an elector, then you will not have that number on your card. Even if you show up at polling station with your MPID card and your electors number is not on that card you will not be able to vote,” Burton explained.
Meantime Chief Elections Officer Steven Larocque disclosed that the enrollment process is expected to commence in October this year.
“The Commission has taken a decision that the enrollment will start for individuals of voting age, and that will be followed by individuals of ages 5-17 so that we meet the deadline of getting as many persons who are eligible to vote to get their cards,” he said.
“There will be an enrollment section where your biographic, bio-metric, photograph, signature and supporting documents will be captured. Vetting will be done by senior officers at the Registry Department and the issuance of the card will be done at the Electoral Office when all systems are checked and it is deemed that the person can be issued with a card,” explained Larocque.
The Electoral Commission is hoping to have the multi-purpose identification cards issued during an eighteen month period commencing in October 2013.
The card will be valid for ten years.