Campaign financing was a prime focus for the Electoral Observation Mission Team of the Organisation of American States (OAS) in the February 19 General Elections.
Chief of Mission, Ambassador Joshua Sears who made a preliminary presentation to members of the media on Wednesday said the lack of regulations for campaign financing continues to be of concern to the hemispheric body.
Ambassador Sears believes campaign finance regulations do not contemplate direct and indirect public financing, nor do they stipulate the list of private sources of income to campaigns.
The OAS Chief of Mission said the local legal framework does not contemplate a mechanism or institution to monitor money coming in for the campaign.
He disclosed that the issue of campaign finance was discussed with the two major political parties, the New National Party (NNP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) as well as members of Civil Society.
He spoke of the key actors having recognised the need to address equity and transparency in the financing of campaigns including the adoption of campaign finance regulations.
In order to enhance future electoral processes, the OAS Mission Team recommends that a comprehensive review of the Representation of the People’s Act be undertaken to address omissions such as the enactment of campaign finance regulations.
“The OAS Elections Observation Mission reiterates the recommendations made by previous Electoral Observation Missions to enact Political Party and campaign finance regulations in order to promote transparency, and more equitable conditions for the participation in the electoral process,” the OAS Ambassador said.
Ambassador Sears outlined another concern that was brought to the attention of the OAS Elections Observation Mission – process of early voting by members of the Royal Grenada Police Force.
He said the distinguishing mark used to differentiate the police ballots from regular ones makes it technically possible to identify how police officers voted.
The OAS Ambassador indicated that the Constitution of Grenada guarantees the right to vote under section 191 (b).
“This practice can potentially undermine the secrecy of the vote,” he remarked.
The OAS Ambassador recommends that the distinction mark of the police ballot be eliminated so as to bring it in compliance with the Constitution regarding the secrecy of the ballot.
Ambassador Sears placed on record the OAS’ recognition of all the steps that were taken in preparation for the elections.
He singled out the efforts made by the Parliamentary Elections Office in promoting awareness on the new voter registration system, and the electoral process.
The OAS Chief of Mission said the Hemispheric Observation Mission in Grenada has consistently pointed out the need for reforming and modernising the voter registration system on the island.
He said although the coming on stream of the new voter registry initially raised some concerns, its implementation in a period of 13 months reflected the authorities’ commitment to create a modern registration system.
“The OAS Mission observes the preparations made by the Parliamentary Elections Office and salutes the efforts made by the office to raise awareness on the electoral process, the voting procedures and the new registration system,” he added.
The OAS Observer Mission came to Grenada from February 12.
Ambassador Sears said last year the Hemispheric Body celebrated 50 years of conducting elections observation and cooperation in the Americas.
He labeled the Grenada electons as free and fair, and said that they were professionally organised.