The Electoral Observation Mission of the Organization of American States (OAS) that observed the general elections in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) on Dec. 9, 2015, on Friday presented its final report to the electoral authorities and to OAS member states.

The report notes the efforts by the electoral department to improve significantly, purge and update the voter’s list, thereby providing a more accurate reflection of voter participation.

Likewise, the document suggests that this be a regular exercise in order to maintain a consistently clean electoral list. It further highlighted the implementation of an improved national identity card as one of the features of the elections.

The mission, headed by Jacinth Henry-Martin, former Chief of Staff to the OAS Secretary General, also underscored the historic voter turnout of 74 per cent and the high level of participation of women in most areas of the electoral/political process. Nevertheless it noted that this trend was not reflected in the number of female candidates, who comprised only 16.28 per cent of the total number of candidates. In this regard, the mission encouraged the initiation and/or strengthening of training programmes in women political leadership.

In terms of the challenges, the final report reflects the lack of campaign financing legislation in SVG, an issue which has been the subject of previous recommendations by OAS Electoral Observations Missions. The report recommends drawing on the experiences of other countries in the region that have made positive strides in this regard.

The report further states that, while the conduct of the election was without any major incident, the mission identified some areas where the election process could have been improved.

Specifically when it refers to the final count of votes witnessed in one constituency — Central Leeward — where they identified some challenges, the observers noted some disquieting issues at this particular constituency, mainly referred to the incorrect application of seals, the absence of the Presiding Officer’s stamp and initials on some ballots and the possible partiality of the returning officer who conducted this recount. In that regard, the mission’s recommendation is to ensure better training and stricter guidelines and procedures for poll workers in conducting the final count at polling stations.

Notwithstanding these concerns, OAS Observers did not discern any fraudulent or other activities at the final count “which could have materially affected the outcome of the vote”. The report also states that the aforementioned issues “strongly indicate a need for further training in rules and procedures for staff at all levels of the electoral machinery in order to reduce or eliminate the variations observed in the treatment of the ballots and ballot boxes, as well as a greater awareness of the need for professionalism and impartiality in the conduct of the electoral process, and closer screening of senior electoral officers to ensure that they comply with these indispensable requirement.”

The OAS Mission SVG was comprised of 13 observers from 11 countries. They observed electoral processes in 14 of the 15 country’s constituencies, visiting 74 per cent of the polling stations. This is the fourth election that the OAS has observed in this member state.

2 COMMENTS

  1. If there was any attempt “to tief the election” in Central Leeward, as the NDP claims, surely it could not have been at the hands of a duncey returning officer like Winston Gaymes, as partial to the outcome as he may have been.

    Trivial errors were surely made, as the report suggests, but these were due to incompetence not malice.

    Overall, our voting procedures are among the fairest and most transparent in the world regardless of what the many sore losers suggest.

    • C. ben, not to pick on you, but for you to make a statement that our voting procedures are among the fairest is flawed. See that is the problem with us Vincentians, we see every thing on the surface or along political lines and not in the full context of what it really is. My concern is that if there is a peevi of a dog flee whisker that there is a problem or potential problem with the voting system then it must be looked at and addressed right away. The issue of the NDP petitions and this OAS report hinted that there is something wrong somewhere. Additionally, why then is the government working so hard to get the NDP’s petitions thrown out of court? If the 2015 election was free and fair then let the NDP waste their time in court with the petitions and prove to the people that nothing went wrong and the system is working as it should, in light of the conduct of persons such as Mr. Gaymes. That is my main concern. At the end of the day we will be rest assured that the our electoral process is in deed free and fair instead of taking it at the surface to believe it is so. Then all the NDP critics could chase them off as much as they want, and we the people will know for sure that our election machinery is good. And then and only then I would agree with your statement. Until then, I can’t agree with you my brother!

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