Campaign 2018 is now truly on among the two major contenders for the seat of power in the Botanicals Gardens with the announcement Sunday night by Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell that March 13 is the date for the next general election.
The announcement set in train a series of activities that can leave many scars on the fairness of the process that is to take place to elect a new government for the people of Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique.
The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has been able to document a number of happenings on Monday, the last day for registration which questions whether there will indeed be free and fair election on March 13.
The most serious of these is the presence of a young lady with a T-shirt at the Parliamentary Elections Office in the town of St. George and captured on video-tape directing business at the office.
THE NEW TODAY does not need to lament anything further on the video since it was all over the social media for the entire world to see what is happening in poor Grenada.
This newspaper has first-hand information and knowledge about wrong doing taking place on Monday at the South St. George Parliamentary Elections Office in the Limes gap.
NNP operatives were very influential in the day’s activities.
A Justice of the Peace who was involved in the infamous Email sex scandal was seen on the compound openly allowing people to enter through a back entrance long after the 5.00 p.m cut-off point when the front door was closed to the public.
The latecomers who were apparently supporters of the ruling party were allowed to proceed ahead of all those persons who were already waiting in the long line for hours to get processed.
Is that a free and fair process? Who is in charge
– The Supervisor of Elections or the NNP operatives and Surrogates?
There were also clear signs of voter-padding taking place in the South St. George constituency on Monday.
An individual in his mid-30’s was getting frustrated because of the length of time being taken by the office to process persons to get registered and wanted to leave the office.
He was persuaded by his sister who told him that he cannot afford to leave.
These were the words used by the man in the conversation with his sister: “I tell you all that ah should have registered across so”.
This was the reply of his sister: “No, we win dey already. It is over here we want you”.
Doesn’t this smack of voter padding by one of the political parties trying to win the election?
The NDC are also pointing fingers at 51 persons from the Happy Hill and Moliniere villages who were taken into St. George North-east and not their rightful place of St. George North-west to get registered on Monday.
How can the Supervisor of Elections, Alex Phillip in the limited days available to him by law come up with an authentic final list for the elections in the face of what appears to be organised voter-padding?
It is clear that the Supervisor of Elections was not totally in charge of the voter registration process that took place at the various constituency offices around the island on Monday.
In the first instance, the office failed to put in place sufficient staff to meet the influx and last minute rush by persons to meet the cut-off point to register to vote on election day.
The alleged irregularities are numerous and Mr. Phillip runs the risk of being discredited at the end of the day as one who stood hopeless as outsiders ran amok in the Electoral Offices across the nation.
Monday’s events should also be looked at against the backdrop of earlier events at the Electoral Office such as the manner in which Judy Benoit was bundled out of the office as Supervisor of Elections, and the mass firing of Registration Officers all by Governor General, Dame Cecile La Grenade.
It is known by many that in the last election in 2013, persons who were living on the St. David side were allowed to vote in St. George South-east.
In the 2003 general elections, the then Deputy Supervisor of Elections, Emmanuel Roberts confirmed to a local reporter that he was approached by the NNP but refused to switch some names between South St. George and St. George South-east constituencies.
The sad truth is that the Organisation of American States (OAS), OECS, CARICOM and other international bodies send Observers to certify elections around the world but the exercise could be useless and futile.
However, the election could have been determined long before the day of polling as the fraud would have already been committed in advance of Election Day.
The true will of the people can also be frustrated and fraud perpetuated easily if corrupt persons are allowed to work inside a Parliamentary Electoral Office.
Any Supervisor of Elections worth his/her salt will not want their name to be sullied by wrongdoing in elections which should always be free and fair.