Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace says there is a risk involved in any effort to reduce the voters’ list, but the only other option is to do nothing.
“Any decision you make in relation to reducing the list, has to recognize one thing: That to some extent there is a risk in doing it, on both sides, but the list cannot otherwise come down.
“So it is either you decide that I am leaving the list so forever or you do something which is relatively arbitrary and that is those person who have the old ID card from such and such a date, they can’t vote. That is the only thing right now in a practical sense, but as you say, there is also a danger associated with it,” Eustace told a caller to his weekly radio programme on Monday.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves told Parliament last month that Supervisor of Elections Sylvia Findlay-Scrubb is proposing that the names of those persons who registered as voters before Jan. 1 2014 and who have not updated their registration over the 10-year intervening period be deleted from the voters’ list due to be published on Oct. 14, 2014 or the voter’s list to be published by the Jan. 15, 2015.
The voters’ list, which, at 105,919, has just 3,269 electors fewer than the population of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in 2012.
A caller to the programme on Monday asked Eustace to comment on the latest proposal.
“It is obvious that the list can’t be right. It is also very clear that when you see the breakout of persons who now have the new ID card, which is 68 thousand or so, and 37,000 not having it, that a lot of those 37,000 are not here (have migrated),” Eustace said.
“The difficulty in this exercise has been because you don’t have immigration records to see if people had come back here in a five-year period; it is very difficult to identify who those people are,” he said.
SVG’s election laws bar from voting in an election a person who has not returned to SVG for five consecutive years leading up to that election.
“… In an effort to get the list reduced, there are only one or two things you can do: If you can get accurately the number of persons who are dead and still on the list and those who came back within a five-year period and are still here. But those who never came back, or didn’t come back within a five-year timeframe; it is very difficult to tell,” Eustace said.
“But, practically, you will never get the information immigration-wise to change the list. So, you can’t use the five-year — you have to use the date of issue of the old ID card,” he further stated.
What is the matter with Mr. Eustace? Why doesn’t he know that all around the world the list of voters is declared null and void after the results of the previous election are declared valid?
When a new election is called voters have to either go to a government office to register anew or are visited at their homes by specially appointed persons who record their names after determining their eligibility to vote.
Such systems are not foolproof but together with the posting of voters’ lists in public places certainly reduce the possibility of impersonation and multiple voting.
Why isn’t such a system in place in SVG?
I think that Mr Eustace thinks that his role in opposition is to oppose any and all ideas that the Government comes up with.
I say, if the government has a good idea, it is the duty of the opposition to either shut up or get in line to support it.
The reduction of the votes list is indeed a good idea.
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