Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, says he intends to make “pertinent recommendations” to the Electoral Commission on electoral reform.
He said a number of issues on that matter, including the issuing of Multi Purpose National ID Cards, the voter’s list, overseas Dominicans coming to vote, among others, will be addressed.
“I intend to issue a statement and also to write to the Electoral Commission, through his Excellency the President, articulating Government’s position with respect to electoral reform and we will be making a number of very pertinent recommendations to the Electoral Commission on a way forward to electoral reform,” Skerrit told State-owned DBS Radio.
The National ID cards will be addressed, he noted, since the Electoral Commission already has the system and resources for issuing them.
“As you know we have purchased the system, the Electoral Commission has the system, it has all the resources that it requires to issue those cards,” he said. “What we have to address is the issue of legislation. So I intend to give a very specific statement to the public on this where the government stand and indeed where the Labour Party stands in respect to electoral reform, the voters’ list, the National Id Cards, addressing the issues of persons living overseas coming in to vote, and there are a number of critical issues which we will be addressing.”
The matter of electoral reform was among the strong calls made by the opposition United Workers Party (UWP) in the run up to the 2014 General Election.
The ruling Dominica Labour Party (DLP) has been accused of putting stumbling blocks to the process.
But the Prime Minister said the Government has “always been supportive of reviewing our system.”
“Obviously legislation systems must be reviewed after a period of time, it must be progressive reviews of those systems,” he argued. “So we will be articulating that to the public and of course writing to the Electoral Commission through the His Excellency the President and our view is to ask the Electoral Commission to put in place a time table towards achieving this very critical milestones with respect to the election process and electoral reform.”
The matter of the Multi Purpose National ID Cards has been a long running issue in Dominica, which has been drawn along political lines.
The UWP has been adamant that Voter ID Cards, as opposed to National 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 the UWP, voter ID cards will help “clean up the voters’ list” and make “voters of this country independent.”
On the other hand, the government has made it clear that a National ID Card is the way to go, arguing that Voter ID cards will be too expensive for the country.
In 2011 Skerrit said the government aims to have the National ID Cards ready for the next general election, which was constitutionally due by 2015.
In 2013, then Health Minister, Julius Timothy said 100,000 of the National ID Cards would be made available to the public by the end of that year.
But by June 2014, the Electoral Commission said it will take approximately two years for the cards to be implemented and it would not be used for the consistutionally due general election.