In response to an invitation from the government of Grenada to observe the general elections of February 19th, 2013, the Secretary General of the Organisation of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza, appointed Ambassador Joshua Sears, from The Bahamas, to lead a team of 18 International observers from 13 OAS member and observer states.
The OAS international observers visited 100% of polling stations in the country’s 15 constituencies.
The OAS Electoral Observation Mission (OAS/EOM) congratulates the people of Grenada for their active participation in this election, reflected in a high voter turnout, and the civil and peaceful manner in which this election was conducted.
The OAS/EOM also recognises the government of Grenada for all the steps taken in the preparation of this election, in particular, the efforts made by the Parliamentary Elections Office in promoting awareness on the new voter registry system and the electoral process.
In the spirit of constructive engagement, the OAS/EOM offers the following preliminary conclusions and recommendations.
These are based on the direct observations of the OAS/EOM and meetings with various stakeholders including government authorities, the Supervisor of Elections, representatives of political parties, civil society organisations and representatives of various media outlets.
The OAS mission observed the preparations made by the Parliamentary Elections Office and salutes the efforts made by this office to raise awareness on the electoral process, the voting procedures and the new registration system.
It is important to highlight that OAS/EOMs in Grenada had consistently pointed out the need for reforming and modernising the voter registration system in Grenada.
Following these OAS recommendations, a new voter registry was composed. Although it initially raised some concerns, the implementation of such a system in a period of 13 months, reflects the Grenadian authorities’ commitment to create a modern registration system with biometric elements that generate confidence and integrity.
The Mission would particularly like to emphasise the efforts made by the Parliamentary Elections Office to issue and distribute the new voter ID cards. Government authorities, political party leaders and civil society organisations that met with members of the OAS/EOM recognised these efforts to inform on the alternative identification methods that would be used for those voters who had not received their voter ID card for the February 19th election.
During the pre-electoral period, the OAS/EOM heard concerns from different actors about four political parties (National United Front-NUF, Movement for Independent Candidates – MIC, People United Labor Party – PULP, and Good Old Democracy Party – GOD) not being able to register with the symbol of their preference.
Some parties also expressed that the procedure to register the symbols was not clear and that the Parliamentary Elections Office had failed to clarify the procedure in a timely manner.
Another issue of concern brought to the attention of the OAS/EOM was the process of early voting by the police. Although the OAS/EOM recognises that early voting for police officers is a good practice to ensure that they can exercise the right to vote, the distinguishable mark used to differentiate these ballots from regular ones makes it technically possible to identify how police officers voted.
The Mission noted the need to review the practice, taking into account that it could potentially undermine the secrecy of the vote and that the Constitution guarantees, under section 191 (b), the right to “vote by secret ballot at public elections which shall be universal and equal suffrage.”
The issue of campaign finance and related concerns surrounding the campaign process was discussed with the leaders of the two major political parties and civil society. The lack of regulations for campaign financing continues to be a concern of the OAS, as stated in the reports of previous missions.
On the issue of equity, campaign finance regulations do not contemplate direct or indirect public financing nor do they stipulate limits on private sources of income to campaigns.
On the issue of transparency, the Grenadian legal framework does not contemplate a mechanism or institution to monitor money coming in and out of the campaigns.
Key actors in the country recognised the need to address equity and transparency in the financing of campaigns, including the adoption of campaign finance regulations.
Despite the fact that promoting women’s participation in the electoral process has been a consistent recommendation by OAS/EOMs in Grenada, the OAS/EOM noted with concern that female representation in political party lists in Grenada remains considerably low.
Out of the 48 candidates running in this election, only nine, or 19% were