More Electoral Reform Recommendations
If it's one thing for certain, since Sir Dennis Byron took on this position to lead the electoral reform process here in Dominica, there have been recommendations, upon recommendations, upon recommendation to the one-man commission engaged by the government.
The latest comes from a member of the board of governors of the Dominica Business Forum (DBF) Inc. and president of the Builders and Contractors Association of Dominica (BCAD), Anthony Le Blanc, who has called for a house-to-house re-verification exercise for the cleansing of the voters' list in Dominica.
Leblanc, who is also the former chairman of the Electoral Reform group, made this recommendation during a virtual consultation on the review of Dominica's electoral legislation with expert Jurist Sir Dennis Bryon.
"A house-to-house re-verification exercise across the entire Island [is] the most efficient way of cleaning the list and re-assigning voters to their respective polling station and an effective way of issuing Voter ID," he said.
Another suggestion he made is a 'registration reform' as he states that there appear to be issues with verifying the identities of new voters before the last general election.
Echoing the call by many people, he stressed, "[There is a] need for ID cards in the registration process itself. Currently, there is no means of cross-checking that a particular person is not registered in another constituency – eliminating multiple registrations."
Leblanc is also of the view that an amendment should be made either to the existing regulations if possible, or to the parent relevant laws, that persons who do not present themselves to vote in two consecutive general elections, for not less than five years, shall be removed from the list of eligible voters.
As pointed out, this process can work by having the Electoral Commission examine the data on the past two consecutive general elections and write to every registered voter at their registered address, requesting that the voter confirms that he still resides at the registered address.
"The onus will be on the registered elector to respond to the Electoral Commission," Leblanc continued.
He said the register should state whether he or she still resides in the registered address or indicate whether that elector has moved to either another polling district or out of state and the time when that was done.
"If the registered elector does not respond, then the Electoral Office shall then remove that name from the list of registered electors," Leblanc suggested.
According to the BCAD president, this amendment would nullify the vexing provision of having to verify that non-resident registered Dominicans have returned to the State within the last 5 years and therefore are still eligible to remain on the electors' list and to vote.
As for polling day, he suggested different voting protocols should be conducted for "safeguarding the integrity of the secret ballot." These include prohibiting all recording devices in voting booths – phones, etc. and prohibiting the identification (calling out) of the ballot number against a voter's name.
But with all these recommendations, many are unsure if they will ever be enacted.
One individual, in particular, is a member of the Dominica Electoral Commission, Wayne James, who is calling on the Government of Dominica to make the necessary commitment to ensure that the people's recommendations on electoral reform be implemented in advance of the next general elections.
James brought to the forefront that over the last general elections various organizations have observed Dominica's elections and have submitted recommendations for electoral reform which was never implemented.
"It is my hope that the government will make the commitment to ensure that the people's recommendations will be implemented in advance of the next general elections in Dominica," he said. "Dominicans home and abroad, this is why in spite of all the forums that Sir Dennis will engage himself with and the report, the recommendations will be the people's recommendations."
He further emphasised that it is only their commitment for the implementation of such recommendations that Dominicans will be in a position to say they have received electoral reform that the nations so desperately desire.