by Ray Roberts
Victory is sweet – and even sweeter when it is a whitewash, hence the celebration is magnanimous and I congratulate the winning NNP. And in government, I wish them every success.
Now here is the big challenge for our Social Partners who are held in high esteem by the Prime Minister – that of ensuring an even playing field for future General Elections.
These men and women of the Church, trade unions, private sector and others ought to uncompromisingly pursue the implementation of the recommendations of the OAS/CARICOM/Commonwealth Observers for future elections.
Reflecting is necessary, both in victory and defeat, and as one of the losing debutantes in the just ended 2018 General Elections, I am compelled to offer some perspectives.
Let’s begin with the Parliamentary Election Office (PEO). It will always face challenges in its quest to run the perfect national elections and the PEO must admit that much needs to be done.
If honesty and fairness means anything to the Parliamentary Electoral Office (and more importantly, to the government – elected by the voters) they cannot ignore the many loopholes that open the doors to dishonesty and cheating.
No doubt about it, the Representation of the People Act ought to be reviewed urgently and strengthened to ensure fairness.
My biggest concern is the verification of the voter registration list – the legitimacy of many of the voters. Are some of these people really from the constituency? Or are they allowed to register there to ensure that a party enhances it numbers?
Based on when the final list is posted that is just not possible to verify. And we must find a method to allow time for one to properly verify who is who. The night before elections I received a list of 25 people who were granted transfers – absolutely nowhere can I verify who is who?
In the eight polling divisions of the Constituency of South St. George, my agents reported dozens of people being allowed to cast a vote without showing a registration card – just claiming to be that person.
Others of Caucasian origin, and Chinese looking people, and even some of African descents who claimed to be citizens of Grenada used their passports as identification.
Many of these people were unknown to agents and the community in which they voted.
None of my agents recall the officer in charge seriously investigating any voter who showed up without the voter registration card and considering how hectic the pace is on election day, it is impossible to pursue it at that time.
Going forward the only solution should be that everyone who wants to vote must show a voter registration card – and nothing else. If you don’t have a card you must not be allowed to vote.
The objective of the Voter Registration Identification card is a demonstration of your registration and qualification to vote.
Elections are not held overnight, they are called every five years. And if anyone loses his or her Identification Card then go and get a replacement.
The Electoral Office must have the equipment to provide the voter card up to a week before the election date.
Here is a very shocking experience which occurred in Polling Division One at the Spring Government School: A woman voter left the room with the ballot and later returned with one of the candidates with the ballot – AND WAS ALLOWED TO PLACE IT IN THE BOX.
The question is, “Why did the returning officer allow the woman to leave the room with the ballot and then return?”
Clearly, the competency of the workers ought to improve. The question could be asked, “How much of that was experienced on election day?”
The greatest threat to an honest election is the Government’s Citizenship by Investment program.
Who are these people? Only the government knows who they are because the laws do not allow publication of their names when granted citizenship.
In the Constituency of South St. George, many of the 1500 Citizenship by Investment passport holders showed up to cast a vote in our national elections – and all Grenadians ought to be gravely concerned about it, and the increasing number that are likely to vote in the coming years.
One may argue that the passport is a legitimate form of identification; but the million-dollar question is, “Why didn’t those voters go to the Parliamentary Office and secure the Voter I.D?”
Today, more than ever everyone says how much he or she loves Grenada but seems to ignore decency and fair play.
I look forward to seeing all patriots – and in particular the Grenada Bar Association, Trade Union Council, Conference of Churches Grenada and the Grenada Chamber of Industry and Commerce championing a review of the Representation of the People’s Act
The Community of Social Partners which the Prime Minister loves so much must demand that he does what is good and genuine – keeping in mind that one day the shoe might be on the other foot, and the consequences won’t be nice.