The Electoral Commission has responded to concerns in relations to “the total number of persons who are duly registered and therefore eligible to vote in the General Elections scheduled for December 8, 2014.”
Last month the Commission said some 72,484 voters are eligible to cast their ballots in the election.
The number has since then come under scrutiny by some who suggested that the number on the list does not reflect the amount of people living in Dominica. Others say the list might be bloated.
But in a press release on Tuesday the Commission said the list was done in accordance with the law of Dominica.
The Commission wishes to assure the public that the status of the list is fully in keeping with the provisions of the law which governs the registration of electors, that is, the Registration of Electors Act, Chap. 2:03 (1990 Revised Laws of Dominica),” the Commission said.
It continued, “The Electoral Commission has repeatedly pointed out that Dominica’s laws allow for the registration, as electors, of citizens of the Commonwealth of Dominica of the age of 18 years and over, as well as persons who are citizens of any Commonwealth country who have been resident in Dominica for a period of 12 months prior to the qualifying registration date. In respect of each of these categories, the person concerned must have been resident in the polling district in which he intends to register for a period of at least three (3) months prior to the date of registration. The exception to this is persons who have attained the age of 18 years within the 3 month period immediately preceding the date of their registration.”
It went on to say, “In this context, it is evident that the Electors List is not intended to be a reflection of the number of persons who are resident in the State at any particular point in time. Instead, the list comprises of electors who reside in Dominica as well as those who are duly registered but are absent from Dominica for one reason or the other.”
“At the heart of the election law is the requirement for continuous registration and the establishment of the right of persons who are registered to remain so registered until such time as their names are removed from the list by strict process of law,” the Electoral Commission said. “The Electoral Commission has in the past detailed the efforts which it has made over the years to remove from the list names which by law ought to be removed and have also explained the procedure by which the general public, political parties and other stakeholders may assist, by filing with Registering Officers, the formal notices of objections prescribed by law.”
The Electoral Commission said no one who is legitimately registered “must be stripped of their fundamental right” to vote “except in the strictest compliance with the law.”
According to the Commission, “In fact, section 27 (2) of the House of Assembly (Elections) Act, Chap. 2:01 makes clear that : “Every person whose name appears on the official list of electors for any polling district shall be entitled to vote in that polling district notwithstanding that he is not resident in that polling district upon polling day.””
It continues, “It is for this reason that the Electoral Commission has issued clear instructions to all presiding officers sworn to serve in the general elections that all persons whose names have been included in the List of Electors for the December 8, 2014 General Elections, are entitled to vote subject to the voting procedures established by law, and in respect of which they have been instructed and trained. The Commission remains resolute in its commitment to performing its duties in accordance with the law and in ensuring that electors are able to exercise their right to vote in a peaceful atmosphere.”
The Commission said it “looks forward to the full cooperation of all elections officers, the political parties and the general public, in this regard.”