Supervisor of Elections Sylvia Findlay on Tuesday reversed her decision to suspend voter registration in August while her office focuses on cleaning up the voter’s list.
The reversal came one day after the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) objected to the move.
“You cannot prevent people from registering,” NDP president and Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace said Monday on his weekly radio programmes.
The new decision was announced in a press release on Tuesday, in which Supervisor of Elections Sylvia Findlay said her office will work simultaneously to register new voter’s as well as prepare and publish the new voter’s list and to make it available to the public for scrutiny.
A new voter’s list will be published in August, Findlay said in the release.
“The list will reflect the names of persons who are registered as voter between June 1, 2005 and July 31, 2015. The Electoral Office urges new voters as well as individuals who are re-registering to make use of the services provided in the constituencies,” the release said.
The Electoral Office further advised the public that the registration schedules will be published in the weekly newspapers and the Electoral Office page of the Government’s website.
Registering officers will also post schedules in strategic places in constituencies and the Electoral Office will make the schedules available to all political parties, the release said.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, who also had ministerial responsibility for electoral matters, read the release at a press conference on Tuesday.
“I just want to say that I have full confidence in the Supervisor of Elections,” Gonsalves said.
“This supervisor of Election and the staff they have been doing a lot of work. They have been very open to the political parties to make suggestions,” Gonsalves told reporters.
“There is no need to have any war with the Supervisor of Elections or her office. She is a woman stuffed with integrity and if there are problems, and if we want to highlight any deficiency, we can do so and she would listen.
“Let us not create the impression that we don’t have a good electoral system or that there is a hanky-panky which is going on, because there is none,” Gonsalves said.
The Electoral Office is engaged in a process to assess the status of some 24,000 persons whose names could be removed from the voter’s list, in keeping with a law passed in Parliament this year.
Most of those persons are believed to be dead, or no longer qualified to vote because they have lived outside of St. Vincent and the Grenadines for five or more consecutive years.
Gonsalves noted that both the government and the opposition supported the bill in Parliament.
That amendment included the provision of one month for persons to challenge the removal of their names.
The month ended yesterday (Monday).
General elections are constitutionally due in March 2016 but Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has said they will be called by yearend.
Speaking on Monday, Eustace asked what would have happened if they elections were called in August, during the hiatus of general voter registration.
“I do not agree that we should stop registration at all until such time as the elections are called and you have the late registration period,” Eustace said.
Speaking on Eustace’s radio programme, Member of Parliament for Central Kingstown, the NDP’s St. Clair Leacock, also opposed the suspension.
“It goes against the grain of an elections that is pending, that for six weeks that the electorate is virtually shut out from becoming participants in the democratic process. I really don’t like it,” said Leacock, who is also a vice-president of the NDP.
You can be sure that the Prime Minister ordered this reversal, thereby illegally intervening in the electoral process, grounds for his removal from office which, of course, will not happen in our little breadfruit country.
The hidden problem here is the same old one of worker productivity, an issue even the PM has brought up from time to time.
Our public (and private) workers are not very productive compared to workers in many other, especially, more developed countries. This is partly due to more technology being available in richer countries. But the main issue is that our work ethic, motor skills, and attention span are much lower. Anyone who has shopped in a supermarket or eaten in a restaurant in America or Canada will immediately see or know what I mean. Our people, regardless of training or education, work slower, make more careless errors, waste more time, are less diligent, etc. than people in the more developed countries.
The work in the electoral office would have been completed long ago by First World workers.
You, Peter Benuse and that LAZY Eustace makes me laugh all the time.
Now , here you are looking at North America and it’s advances in work ethics, and you are praising it.
Now you got a Prime Minister who is moving this country to where we can have some professional work ethics too, You and that LAZY Eustace critize him all the time. So it lead me to believe you are as dumb as I thought.
So what the hell do you and that LAZY Eustace want ?
I do not believe for a moment that the decision was hers to suspend or reinstate voter registration. I believe she has put up with some political Interference and is being used as a political football.
Miss Sylvia Findlay is a decent woman. I believe that she is being manipulated by the two guys who will stop at nothing to ensure that they remain in office so that they can continue to grow their millions while the majority of vincentians remain in poverty stricken conditions.Please stand firm Miss Findlay and do not allow yourself to be use like how blacks were used to capture and sell their black brothers into slavery.
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