Prime Minister Tillman Thomas has expressed appreciation to the Organisation of Amrican States (OAS), for its speedy response to his request, to provide technical support to validate and verify the integrity of the new voter registration system, to ensure that the upcoming general election is held in a clean, free, fair and transparent manner.
The technical team from the OAS visited Grenada during the period January 21 to February 1 and comprised two (2) Coordinators, two (2) IT Specialists, a Statistic Specialist and a Legal Specialist.
On completion of the two (2) week long mission the team submitted a Report which concluded that “the introduction of biometric identification cards and an electronic voter database constitute significant improvements in voter security, relative to the processes that were previously in place.
While the OAS team noted areas for improvement in terms of the technical capacity of internal information technology personnel as well as procedures for inter-institutional cooperation to update and cleanse the voters’ list, its verification of the electoral database by the OAS team indicated strong levels of accuracy and reliability. ”
According to the report, “the house-to-house survey on voter registration attested to the integrity of the voter registration database, in 98% of cases, there was almost perfect correspondence between the place of residence provided by the citizen and the constituency in which that citizen was registered.
Among those surveyed who claimed to have registered to vote, 95% appeared on the most recent version of the electoral list.
Further, the report noted that, “Grenada has significantly improved the legal framework governing the voter registration process.
The 2011 Amendment to the Representation of the People Act provides for the establishment of a permanent, centralised and computerised voter registration system, and establishes a more stringent identification requirement; both of these reforms should lead to a more secure process that increases confidence among the populace.
While the previous electoral code called for an enumeration exercise, and thus the creation of a new voters’ list, every five years, the 2011 Amendment grants significant discretion to electoral authorities in determining the need for and timing of future enumeration processes.
This discretion facilitates the establishment of a voters list that can be continually updated, obviating the need for costly and time-consuming enumeration processes.
At the same time, the legislation provides for checks and balances in terms of voter’s list data, guaranteeing parties and citizens sufficient oversight over the registration process.
Nevertheless, the electoral code, which in many ways is still based on a paper voter registration system, would benefit from additional updating to cover the procedures associated with the new biometric process.
“The Parliamentary Elections Office and the Government of Grenada made an important investment, in both financial and human terms, to implement an improved registration system ahead of the 2013 general elections. The current voters’ list evidently represents a more accurate reflection of the voting population”, the report said.
The assessment of the OAS Technical Team is that the voter registration system in Grenada is generally robust. Grenadian authorities deserve recognition for implementing a new system, which constitutes real progress for the organisation of clean and inclusive elections in the country”, it added.
Prime Minister Thomas is satisfied that his Government made the right decision in heeding the OAS calls in 1999, 2003 and 2008 for a new voter registration system.
Grenadians can now be guaranteed a free and fair election, free from the voter padding and irregularities pertaining to the electoral list of previous elections.