The Chairman of Dominica's Electoral Commission must Resign or be Removed from Office

June 24th, 2017
Mr. Gerald Burton, Chairman of the Dominica Electoral Commission, should do the honorable thing and resign or, according to the Constitution, the President of Dominica must set the process in motion to remove him. The President must now act under Section 56(7) after conditions of Section 8 has been satisfied in order to remove Mr. Burton from office due to persistent “misbehavior”. After 10 years as Chairman of the Electoral Commission it is plain to so see that Mr. Burton is unable to carry out his duties. He has shown that, contrary to the dictates of the Dominica Constitution, he is neither impartial nor independent.


As the Chief Electoral Commissioner, Mr. Burton should be independent of the Executive Branch of Government (Governing Party). So, it is puzzling to understand why this Commissioner would get involved in the sale of passports through the Citizenship By Investment (CBI) program. Doesn’t he understand that this is a direct financial conflict of interest? This Chairman lacks integrity. Otherwise, how do you explain the fact that after more than 2 years delay, a very damming report by the Commonwealth Election Observers just came to light? The report was made available to the Executive Branch and the Chairman of the Electoral Commission within a few weeks of the conclusion of December 8, 2014 General Elections in Dominica. It was the duty of Mr. Burton, in the interest of Democracy, to publish all the post-election Reports not only the ones that were favorable to the process. It was the duty of the Commission to work on identified deficiencies and to make recommendations for fairer elections in the future. Instead, the report was suppressed.

Mr. Burton has lost the respect of the Dominican electorate.  How can you trust someone to protect the one thing that keeps a democracy intact when he engages in such devious behavior?  It is not Mr, Burton's job to keep the Labor Party in power. Mr. Burton's job is to protect the Democratic rights of the people of Dominica ensuring that they have free and fair elections. Has he been doing that? What has he done with the power given to him under the Constitution? Here is the mission of the Dominica Electoral Commission:

To facilitate the efficient conduct of free and fair elections in the Commonwealth of Dominica and serve the public with efficiency and impartiality. 

Can Mr. Burton honestly say that he is fulfilling the mission of the Commission? How can elections be fair when the Commission itself is not fair. In addition to the chairman who is appointed by the President, there are 4 commission members, 2 nominated by the Ruling Party and 2 by the Official Opposition. The chairman is appointed by the President to ensure and maintain neutrality and independence.  Mr. Burton has aligned himself with the Administration. That is wrong. He is supposed to be neutral.  That arrangement is problematic because, in this setting, only issues introduced by the ruling party members would be supported. In its current composition, the Commission is dysfunctional because the Chairman has abdicated his role as an unbiased arbiter. He has allowed himself to be unduly influenced by the ruling party. For instance, after 10 years as Chairman, why is Dominica the only country in the OECS without an updated voters list and, no Voter ID Card?  What Mr. Burton has been doing is to ensure that the Labor Party stays in power by stalling and interfering with progressive reforms.  That is why he was quick to support a reform that would legalize the obviously illegal practice of 'treating' during election campaigns; it would benefit the Dominica Labor Party.  How can this further Democracy in Dominica?

Under the Dominica Constitution, the person appointed as a chairman must be competent and be of undoubted integrity; he / she must command the respect of the other members of the commission and the electorate at-large.  Accordingly, a Commissioner can be removed from her / his job for misbehavior and inability to perform her / his duties.  Mr. Burton has displayed total lack of ability to fulfill his role as the Chairman of the Dominica Electoral Commission and so he must be removed using the Constitutionally available tools.  It may be that the  first step to “cleaning” the voters list ought to be to “purge"  the Electoral Commission of the bogus  commissioners.

Update: 9/1/2017.  This post was written 2 months ago but it is more relevant today than ever. Mr. Burton continues to do the work of the Labor Party Administration instead of the Dominican people. Two days ago Mr. Burton admitted something that the public knew all along, that he had the authority to issue ID cards for voting.  Nevertheless, he has allowed himself to be used by the Skerrit Administration. He is advocating to violate the constitution by promoting amendment of the Registration of Electors Act to make it easier for the Labor Party to bring voters from overseas to vote in Dominica.  The public must tell Mr. Burton to stop this politics and create Voter ID cards Now.

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