The local election-monitoring group is calling on electoral officials to abolish the 15-day special registration of voters after the announcement of a general election.
“The fifteen-day registration period does not allow for adequate checks and balances and provides limited time for political parties to scrutinise the list and to make any objections,” the National Monitoring and Consultative Mechanism (NMCM) said in its report on the Dec. 9 general elections.
The report, which was released to some entities last week, but not the media, said the special registration period “leaves room for discrepancies in the registration”.
iWitness News obtained a copy of the report, in which the NMCM said that unlike other elections since its formation in 2000, it monitored the 15-day special registration period last year.
“This period saw a heightened registration of persons also with increased transfers. Some registering officers had to work way beyond scheduled times in an effort to accommodate those wishing to be registered or transferred,” the NMCM said.
It said the constituencies of East Kingstown and East St. George saw “very high levels of activity” at the registration centres during the entire 15-day period.
In many cases, Justices of the Peace were on site at the centres to sign the certificates that facilitated the transfers.
“With this high volume of registration during such a short period and the publication of the final voters’ list three days after the close of the registration period, it leaves room for discrepancies in the registration process as there is no time to investigate both new registration and transfers as would be done in normal times of registration. It placed immense pressure on the electoral officials to ensure accuracy,” the NMCM said.
It said that agents of political parties challenged a number of transfers and registrations.
Some of these objections were upheld. “It must be noted that were the opposing parties both agreed those registrations were not allowed,” the NMCM said.
“Since the inception of the NMCM, the body has called for the abolition of the fifteen-day registration period after the Election Writ has been issued. This period could be opened to illegitimate transfers and registrations as it does not provide parties with time to make objections. It also places extreme pressure on the Office of the Supervisors of Elections to have the final list published without the necessary time for checks and balances. Again we recommend that consideration be given to examine the implications of the fifteen-day registration period,” the group said.