Updated: September 10, 2017

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” Bert Lance

Over the past 2 weeks the Chairman of the Dominica Electoral Commission (Gerrald Burton) and the Chief Electoral Officer (Steven Larocque) have been going around the island hosting education sessions purposed to sensitize Dominicans about the upcoming proposed changes to the Registration of Electors Act. However, these two 'messengers' have failed to inform their audience of the massive proposed amendments to the Act that is in the pipeline. Those proposed changes will essentially render the vote of those very same voters insignificant. How can these characters say they are educating the public about a process when the public is only given half of the information. This may be due to the fact that those proposals are not really necessary for the Electors Act to function and are only proposed to make sure that one Party, Labor Party, remains in power forever. Rather than attempting to manipulate the electoral process, the Administration should just come clean and tell the public that after 17 years in power the Party has failed to consolidate its base and have to depend on voters outside of Dominica to give them a majority. What a shame?

Why are such amendments being proposed? These amendments are certainly not aimed at solidifying the Democratic rights of the Dominican people. Instead, the proposed amendments aim to reduce the value of the vote of local Dominicans thereby taking away their choice of who they want to govern them.  The current Registration of Electors Act has all the tenets to protect voting rights of Dominicans.  The Act is very clear.  It was established to protect voting rights of people who live in Dominica.  Why should the framers be so concerned with Dominicans who have chosen to live abroad? The Chairman of the Electoral Commission and vociferous Legal Advisors to the current Administration have stated that a new voter’s list may take voting rights away from Dominicans.  However, they should have no fear.  All they have to do is read the existing Act and they will see that those issues are covered.  Find some of the highlights below.

Clean List Every Year

Basically, The Registration of  Electors Act, as it currently exist, calls for a updated voters list to be published every year. Accordingly, Section 11 of the  Registration of Electors Act provides for a clean Voters list every year.  Furthermore, by September 30th of every year, the Elections office has to publish a preliminary list of voters.   On that list, there should be no persons who have died or persons who have lived overseas for more than 5 consecutive years.  One has to wonder why the List of Electors have remained so bloated?  What has the Electoral Office been doing for the past 17 years?

Remedies for Name(s) Omitted from Preliminary List.

According to Section 27. (1), Any person whose name does not appear in a preliminary register and who claims to be entitled to be registered as an elector for the constituency to which the register relates, may attend at the electoral revising centre in the polling district in which he resides and fill out a Form 3.  The Chief Electoral Officer has up to November 30th of the same year to publish an updated list with the addition of the electors who had been initially omitted from the list.  He/she has to publish, every November, a revised annual list of electors.  This list should not have any persons who are dead, nor anyone who has been living overseas, continuously, for more than 5 years. In addition, the name of anyone who has proven that they were left off the preliminary list would be included in that updated list.

Obsession with Overseas Voters

Why does the Administration have this obsession with overseas voters? Why does the Administration need to confirm people who live overseas? The Electors Act was instituted for the People who live in Dominica.  It was not meant to accommodate the people who chose to live and pay taxes outside of Dominica. Is it because they do not value the local Dominican voters and do not care to increase their majority on the island?  They may regard Overseas voters as their Ace in the hole because these individuals have allowed themselves to be bought.

Proposed Changes to the Electors Act

The sweeping changes to the Registration of Electors Act is proposed only to consolidate Labor Party power.  The Prime minister and cabinet does not hold the Dominican people in high regard.  The people of Dominica are just pawns in Mr. Skerrit's chess game.  He will use them to legitimize his existence while at the same time using Dominicans who live outside of Dominica to give him his majority.

If the Dominicans who live overseas are so interested in voting in Dominica, then they will buy a ticket and come down to Dominica to register.

The Amendment is a solution looking for a problem.