With November 24 set as the new date for the holding of the referendum seeking to alter the Grenada Constitution, the Parliamentary Elections Office is calling on more community groups to register to serve as referendum monitors on the day of balloting.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference last week Thursday, Supervisor of Elections, Alex Phillip said the office needs as much monitors as possible in an effort to ensure that there is transparency in the process.
Phillip made a plea for more groups to come in to the office and register to serve as monitors.
“We are looking at community groups and we are saying at least three from each community and not more than five of those groups to register or to show an interest so that we can have persons from the community in these polling stations to observe what is taking place on referendum day”, he said.
“…We would like as soon as possible (for) persons to come in because we would like to have the persons assigned to the different polling stations…two weeks or so before (Referendum Day) would be appropriate for us,” he added.
According to the Supervisor of Elections, it is the first time that a referendum is taking place in the country and in the past persons served as “agents” for the various political parties but now it has to be monitors.
He said the office wants persons to come in and serve as monitors “to ensure that this thing (Referendum) is of a very high standard, the integrity is maintained, there is transparency so at the end of the day whatever results are released, that persons would be happy to say I was at that polling station and this is what happened…it was free and it was fair”.
Phillip responded to concerns raised over the anonymity and security of the process of voting, something he hopes the presence of monitors would curb.
“… We believe in the integrity of what we do and we have a very hard working staff and over the years they would have learnt from experience that persons were saying that when Police voted in the last election that persons knew who the police voted for”, he said.
“In this referendum and we trust that in subsequent elections that would not be a concern.
The numbering that we put in the registration number, they would be on a part that we call the counter foil and that part would not be going into the ballot box. That would be torn off before the voter put his or her ballot into the box.
“There isn’t anything on the counter foil to match the ballot that is going into the ballot box. The ballot wouldn’t have anything that we can say this is X’s ballot of Y’s ballot…so once that ballot goes inside there, anonymous, nobody would be able to pick it up and say…so persons need not to fear.
Reports had circulated during the 2013 general election process that the vast majority of police officers voted in favour of the current New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.