The Parliamentary Elections Office (PEO) has launched a new website some 71 days ahead of the October 27 Referendum to change the country’s Constitution that was handed down by the British in 1974 when the island achieved its political independence.
The website, www.peogrenade.org, which was officially launched last week Wednesday at PEO’s headquarters, Old Trafford Road, Tanteen, St. George., is also accessible on the Government of Grenada website www.gov.gd, under department, gov.gd.
The website comprises nine pages including one that provides specific information regarding the upcoming Referendum.
The site allows visitors to access information like the Constituency Offices, Constituency Information and Registration.
According to Systems Operator at the Parliamentary Elections Office, Michael Millet, the website would be updated regularly with all pertinent information that should interest the public.
“Our main focus right now at the office is all about getting persons registered and to facilitate the voting process, and now since the referendum is our next major event…we are hoping that we can reach the public and feed them with all the information that they so desire,” Millet told reporters at a press briefing.
Millet, who is responsible for the design of the website, said the ballot paper for the upcoming referendum is close to completion and that a sample containing each of the seven Bills for the referenda, would be made available on the website “very soon” so that persons can familiarise themselves with exactly what it would look like (and) would not be something strange when you get there on (referendum) day.”
In the event that persons attempt to print or screen the sample ballot for their use, Millet said that “as a security measure the paper that would be used on referendum day would not be (like) regular paper”.
He noted that “there are a lot of built in security features that only the PEO officers will be aware of.”
Additionally, the PEO systems operator said “most of the documents that are available on the website are not downloadable or printable.”
He pointed out that each of the seven bills to be decided upon would also be associated with a symbol in an effort to make it easier for persons to vote.
“For example, the symbol for the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Bill is a scale that is normally used to depict the legal fraternity here; the Rights and Freedom Bill has a symbol of a black hand and a white hand clasped together; the bill for a Fixed Term of Office has a calendar with three terms; Fixed Date for Election with a calendar with just an (x) marking one day; the symbol for the Name of State Bill resembles the passport with a map of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique,” Millet said.
The bill seeking to ensure a Leader of Opposition is represented with a symbol of two persons behind a podium – one black and one white, while the bill seeking to establish an Electoral Boundaries Commission has a symbol of a hand dropping a ballot into a ballot box with a magnifying glass over the hand containing the ballot.
Millet also said that prior to the launch of the website, the only interface the office had with the public is through the list and other documents distributed by the various constituency offices throughout the island.
“Today with this website we are hoping to get every piece of information that we need out in the public in the hands of the public…”, he said.
Meanwhile, PEO Civic and Voter Registration Officer, Ferdinand Phillip said pamphlets, brochures and electronic advertisements are in the making to help push the sensitisation process, while outreach initiatives are ongoing within the various schools, community groups and civil society organisations throughout the country.
“As we go out, we emphasise that the referendum is coming and that persons need to get registered (because) if they are not, they would not be able to take part in the process. And one of the things that we letting persons know right now is that when the writ is issued by the Governor General, they have exactly nine days after the issuance of the writ to get registered otherwise they would not be able to take part in the referendum” Phillip said.
“So we are doing a lot of work in that area and we continue to look for innovative ways to get the message out,” he added.
With the referendum poll fast approaching, Acting Supervisor of Elections, Alex Phillip, said his office maintains a close working relationship with the Constitution Reform Advisory Committee (CRAC), which is spearheading public education on the bills to the general population and eligible voters so that they can make a decision for Constitution or not.
“We would have had several meetings (with CRAC)…we know we have our role to play (in voter education) and are working very closely to have that done…what the population have to be very mindful of is that if we have a low voter turnout and only 5000 persons turn out to vote, these persons would be making the decision for the rest of us.
Phillip expressed the view that even though 71 days may not seem like much, it is enough time to sensitise the populace and reiterated that two thirds of the voting population for each bill will be sufficient to determine whether or not the bill is passed.
According to the PEO a total of 69, 312 persons are currently registered to vote with 341 out of the 656 persons registering during the last quarter of 2015, being persons between the ages of 18-22 years.