KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Feb. 22, IWN – The ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) and the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) are both calling for a cleanup of the voters list.
The NDP issued a call in a Jan. 30 press release and Sen. Julian Francis, general secretary of the ULP, said Tuesday that the size of the voters list is of concern to him.
He called on the NDP to join with the ULP in trying to rid the list of the persons who do not qualify to vote here.
“… The Unity Labour Party intends to spend a fair amount of time addressing this matter at our level, the party level,” Francis said on “ULP Speaks” on Star Radio.
He said the party’s activities in cleaning up the list are separate from those of the government.
“The Unity Labour Party does not represent the government in this matter, neither does the government represent the Unity Labour Party in this matter. The government is there as the authority which carries the responsibility for an effective electoral machinery,” he said.
He noted that under the law, the Supervisor of Elections and her staff are responsible for “making sure everything is put right”.
Francis said the last figure he has is a voters list of 101,000.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines has a population of between 100,000 and 110,000.
“Our voters list is heavy and I believe all of us who spend time around it and who are familiar with it would conclude that we have a lot more names of the list that should be deleted,” he said.
He said there are some duplication of names and allegations of person with more than one ID cards.
But Francis said he believes that the majority of names that should be deleted are deceased persons, and persons who are outside the country for longer than the election laws would allow them to vote.
“And I think it is our responsibility, us in the political directorate of the two major political parties, … to assist the Supervisor of Elections in getting this matter cleared up,” he said. .
Francis said that about 60,000 persons voted in each of the last four elections here.
He said that the 101,000-person election list therefore contains “a hard core … that has come over from year to year.
“This didn’t just accumulate being since the Unity Labour Party came to office [in 2001]. Let me make that point clear. This is not a padding of the list by the Unity Labour Party. This is an accumulation of oversight and not proper cleaning of the electoral list,” he said.
“… I also speak to those in the New Democratic Party. It is all in our interest that we get this matter resolved so that at least can have one difference out of the way. Because, we all talk of the voters’ list and very few of us sit down and try to assist the Supervisor of Elections,” Francis said.
He said he has discussed the matter with the Supervisor of Elections, Sylvia Findlay, and has made some suggestions.
“… As General Secretary of the Unity Labour Party, I pledge the support of the party in assisting her wherever we can so do in providing her the information that may be necessary…” Francis said.
He appealed for the assistance of persons whose relatives are overseas and have not come home for longer periods than the law would allow for them to still qualify to vote.
“They will still be registered but they will have to be looking at two lists: one as the real voters list and one as a list of persons who have identification cards. … Because the ID cards that we get now have an expiry date, and it is necessary when that expiry date comes that you renew your identification card,” he said.
Meanwhile, the NDP in a Jan. 30 release said that while preparing for the 2010 general elections, it found on the voters list the name of almost 1,000 persons who are outside SVG for more than five years, who are not qualified to vote.
The NDP restated its call for the voters list “to be analysed and cleaned up”.
“Why the Government and the ULP have not urged the Supervisor to clean up the list is troubling to us in the NDP and the people in general, quoted the NDP shadow minister for electoral affairs, Dr. Godwin Friday.
“It is clear that the voters list is bloated and inaccurate. How can we have a voter’s list that is approaching the size of the population of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and do nothing about it? This matter should be a priority for the Supervisor of Elections, especially since general elections can be called at any time,” Friday further said.