Voter Eye Dees
The Electoral Commission will begin producing national ID Cards in a couple weeks but the opposition UWP says it wants voter ID Cards and a clean voters' list.
All-in-one identification cards – you'll be getting yours soon. And you may be able to use it to mark your x for the candidate of your choice at the next election.
That's if Steven LaRocque, the Chief Elections Officer, the Electoral Commission (EC) and the Government of Dominica have their way.
"The Electoral Commission was of the view that once it meets the requirements as is required by law for election purposes, we have no problems with that; with one proviso that the card has to be issued by the Electoral Commission," LaRocque told the SUN. "Presently, we have gone a long way, in that, we have put the necessary things in place and the equipment is due in Dominica this week for installation and training of officers to use the equipment in September and hopefully to start enrolling person into the system for the last quarter of this year."
Asked about the requirements of the law as it relates to voter identification LaRocque said: "The law says that the Chief Elections Officer shall cause to be implemented a card to be used at elections to prevent people from voting more than once.
"So, if there is a card that the Commission is comfortable with that, and it meets the requirements we have no problems. Two of the main features of this card are that your finger prints will be captured and there will be a unique identifier number which will allow us to identify the individuals who present themselves for voting are in fact who they are. So, it meets a lot of the criteria of what the Electoral Commission is looking at."
In the past the opposition United Workers Party (UWP) has stressed that general election will not be held without voter identification cards and argued that a multi-purpose card is not the answer.
However, LaRocque said he has pointed out what the law says to the opposition parties and the EC had tried to address all the concerns that the opposition raised.
"They have seen what it states (the law). As to how they deal with it, that's a matter for them," he said.
During the last election campaign, the opposition accused the ruling party of inviting persons in the Diaspora, who were not eligible, to travel to Dominica to cast their vote. That was one of their main arguments in favour of a single voter identification card. But LaRocque said all Dominicans, temporary as well as permanent residents, will be issued the card.
"But they may be disqualified to be registered to vote, therefore they cannot use the card to vote," he said. "It is only if you are qualified to be an elector your registration number will be inserted on the card and you will be able to say that person is a bona fide registered voter." LaRocque said if someone's name is on the voters list, and someone else says it should not be there, the law requires due process before that name is removed from the list.
"In other words, someone has to object to your name being on that list," he said, adding that the person also has the right to a defence.
But Edison James, the political leader of the UWP, will not tell the Sun whether his party had accepted the national ID cards and the recommendations of the EC as explained by LaRocque.
"I have heard what the Chief Elections Officer had to say but they must not provoke the people… we want free and fair elections with ID cards and also a cleaned-up voters list," James said.