Systems in place for Constitutional Referendum

The Parliamentary Elections Office is in a state of readiness to conduct the first ever National Referendum in Grenada, according to Supervisor of Elections Alex Phillip.

Supervisor of Elections - Alex Phillip

Supervisor of Elections – Alex Phillip

In an exclusive interview with THE NEW TODAY, Phillip provided this newspaper with an overview of the measures that have already been put in place for the October 27th Referendum.

He likened the referendum to that of a General Election and as such the Parliamentary Elections Office must be prepared to conduct the poll.

He disclosed that Presiding Officers, Registration Officers, Returning Officers, and Poll Clerks along with the Polling Stations and ballot boxes have already been identified.

He said the Electoral Office is now focused on ordering the ink that will be used for the eligible voters who will participate in the Referendum.

The Parliamentary Elections Office is working with a budget of just under one million dollars to conduct the Referendum.

The Supervisor of Elections credited the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with the financial assistance received for the exercise, the design of the ballots, and voter education.

Phillip spoke of his staff working assiduously in taking every effort to have things in place for the Referendum, which takes place in under four weeks.

He said the office has embarked on outreach programmes, designing the ballots, and a website as part of the educational process.

He pointed out that the Parliamentary Elections Office has taken on its own to conduct walk-a-rounds, and visits to most secondary schools including the T.A. Marryshow Community College (TAMCC) to encourage persons to get registered for the Referendum.

The island’s Electoral Office chief indicated that they have noticed “a sizeable increase” in the registration process in recent months.

During the recent launch of the Grenada Constitution Reform Advisory Committee (CRAC) one hundred meetings towards Referendum Day at the Grenada National Stadium, Phillip disclosed that as of August 25, some 69,312 persons are on the Voter’s list.

“We want persons to understand that if you’re not registered as an elector for regular elections you will not be able to participate in the Referendum,” he said.

The Office of the Governor-General issued the writs for the Referendum last Friday.

People wishing to be registered to vote in the Referendum have until October 4 to do so.

Those persons who have already been registered since the last General Elections in February 2013 do not need to register again.

The Supervisor of Elections confirmed that there would be Referendum Monitors comprising the Grouping of Civil Society Organisations, Churches, and Political Parties.

He disclosed that each group is expect to submit to his office by October 3rd the names of their Referendum Monitors.

The law provides for no less than three or no more than five monitors in each constituency.

Voting on Referendum Day takes place between 6:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

Phillip is confident that with the use of modern technology, the voting results in the Referendum should become available within a short period of time after the polls have closed.

The Supervisor of Elections is encouraging persons to obtain and acquaint themselves with the seven Constitutional Bills that will feature in the Referendum.

The Bills have already been passed in both Houses of Parliament, and Dame Cecile La Grenade gave her assent on August 5 to the Constitutional Referendum Act.

From among the seven Bills are 69 proposals – the Caribbean Court of Justice and other Justice-Related Issues, which has nine proposals, the Elections and Boundaries Commission contains nine proposals, and Name of State with two proposals.

The others are Bill of Rights and Freedoms, which has 45 proposals, Term of Office of the Prime Minister with one proposal, Fixed Date for General Elections with one proposal, and Ensuring the appointment of a Leader of the Opposition, which has two proposals.

In order for changes to be made to the constitution, two-thirds of the people who participate in the referendum would have to vote in favour of any of the Bills.

“All systems are in place as far as the Parliamentary Elections Office is concerned,” Phillip said.

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