KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, May 23, IWN – Facial recognition technology might be too expensive but Supervisor of Elections, Sylvia Findlay-Scrubb, has a proposal on reducing the size of the voter’s list, which, at 101,000, is just about 5,000 less than the estimated size of the population.
Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves told Parliament last week that the Government is exploring the use of facial recognition technology in the nation’s electoral system but it is highly complex and expensive.
“For the system alone for the facial recognition, it is going to cost in the region of US$3 million,” Gonsalves said in response to a question from Northern Grenadine representative, Dr. Godwin Friday, an opposition lawmaker.
Gonsalves, citing an answer provided by the Supervisor of Elections said the Electoral Office is involved in a daily update of the voter’s list through its continuous programme of voter registration, which takes place twice weekly in each constituency.
The names of deceased persons are removed monthly through information received from the Registry and the National Broadcasting Corporation, which broadcasts the most obituaries.
“To date, these sources have proven to be very reliable,” Gonsalves, said.
He further told lawmakers that on April 9, the Supervisor of Elections met with representatives of the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP) and the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) separately to discuss the issue of the voters’ list.
The Supervisor of Elections presented a proposal for what is likely to result in a significant reduction in the number of persons on the voters’ list, Gonsalves said.
She recommended that the quarterly voters’ list that will be published in July 2014 only contain the names of persons who renew their registration as voters in St. Vincent and the Grenadines between July 2009 and July 2014.
The Prime Minister, who also has ministerial responsibilities for electoral matters, noted that the Representation of the People Act says that besides death and a court order, the Supervisor of Elections can only remove a person’s name from the voter’s list if that person has been out of the country for five consecutive years.
The Supervisor of Elections further proposed that beginning July 2013 there should be one year of intense publicity leading up to the July 2014 cut off date, the prime minister said.
The NDP and ULP are scheduled to meet again with the Supervisor of Elections in mid June 2013 to provide feedback on her proposal.
“This seems to me, on the face of it, an eminently reasonable proposal to address the matter,” the prime minister commented.
“Mr Speaker, it is all well and good, you have a question, raise issues about the lack of transparency and problems with transparency and integrity,” he further stated.
“But everybody has said that the [electoral] system is transparent, the system has integrity, and the government in St. Vincent and the Grenadines was elected on a free and fair basis and those of us who are here (in government) and those of us over there (in opposition), are reflective of the will of the people. Long may it be so and I want to strengthen that,” Gonsalves said.
He further commented that from a policy standpoint, his government has sought to ensure and inspire citizens’ confidence in electoral system.
“Anytime a man lose[s] [in an election], he feel[s] that something wrong with the system. Fellas must learn to take their defeat,” the Prime Minister said.
He also noted that his government has purchased and installed a modern ID processing system and purchased a home for the Electoral Office.