The Electoral Commission in Dominica said it is confident that the nation has been holding free and fair elections and together with the Electoral Office, the commission will continue to work in keeping it that way.
Last week the United Workers Party (UWP) met with the commission to discuss what it said were efforts to achieve a free and fair general election on the island.
The party presented six major issues for discussion, including the cleansing of the voters’ list, the functioning of the registering officers in specific constituencies, the issuance of the multi-purpose ID cards and their use for voting in the upcoming general election, the importation of oversees voters, reviewing electoral laws and a public education drive.
The Electoral Commission has released a statement which said that steps have actually been taken to clean up the the voters’ list.
It said based on records received from the civil registry on a monthly basis and following verification with registering officers in the districts, names of deceased persons are removed from the list.
Furthermore, the commission said, there are investigations into Commonwealth citizens who are no longer living in Dominica with the view of removing them from the list.
The commission noted that the names of persons who are said to be deceased and are submitted by political parties or other interested stakeholders for removal from the list, are submitted to the civil registry for verification before being removed.
The Commission emphasized the obligation of political parties and other stakeholders to draw to the attention of the Commission, the names of persons whom they believe should not be on the list and the fact that the electoral law contains procedure for objections leading to the removal of such persons from the list.
The UWP was concerned over the functioning of registering officers in specific constituencies, alleging that they were not discharging their functions properly, but the party was told that it should write to the commission providing details of the allegations, pointing out that it will not tolerate any malpractice.
In terms of the issuance of multipurpose cards the commission stated that the process will likely take two years and will not recommend its use for elections, “unless it was satisfied that each person who is entitled to vote had the reasonable opportunity of being enrolled and issued a card.”
Concerning allegations that the Dominica Labour Party intends to use “illegal practices involving importation of overseas voters” the commissions said that while it was “in fact preparing a position paper on the issue, it had not, as a body, considered the specific issue of overseas voters being brought in by political parties.”
However, the commission said it will put the matter on its agenda and will inform the UWP of its position in due course.
The commission noted that the matter of reviewing election laws is ongoing and said public education is important. It said intiatives such as a soon to be introduced Facebook page, improvements to the Electoral Office website, appearance in the media, among others will be undertaken.
The commission also pointed out that as of June 20, 2014 the voters’ list contained 69,240 persons.
“When one considers the large number of Dominicans who reside overseas but who by law are eligible to vote in Dominica, it is at least arguable that the voters’ list is not as bloated as it is made out to be,” the commission said.
The commission noted that the public should rest assure that it is committed to free and fair elections in Dominica.
“The Commission reminds the public that the present electoral system has produced free and fair elections in Dominica over several decades and that it is confident that the system is able to continue to do so,” the statement said.
The Electoral Commission consists of the following:
-Gerald D. Burton – Chairman
-Kondwani Williams – Member
-Alick Lawrence – Member
-Mariette Warrington – Member
-Anthony Commodore – Member
-Steven La Rocque – Chief Elections Officer(Ag)
See full statement below.