Updated: September 09, 2018

"When someone shows you who they are believe them, the first time" Maya Angelou

There is a political plot being hatched in Dominica that will possibly be the end of Democracy on that island. It is disguised as "Amendments to the Electors Act". This action is meant to smother Democracy in Dominica once and for all.  The co-conspirators are the Dominica Labor Party led by Roosevelt Skerrit, perpetual Chairman of the Electoral Commission Gerald Burton, New Chief Elections Officer Ian Anthony and  inept Attorney General Levi Peter. They have decided that amending the Electors Act to make it easier for overseas voters to register for their National ID Card for voting is  the ultimate coup. One must recall that this gang have tried such a version of this plot before where they attempted to amend the Elections Act to legalize bribery and treating but, it was foiled by the public who protested. They are it again because the Dominicans  have been demanding electoral reform for more than 10 years; what better time to deal the final blow! This post will focus on the role of the Electoral Commission and the Attorney General.

The machinations likely started after June 4th, 2017. On that date, a Press Release was  posted by the Electoral Commission on their Face Book page which gave details of  the procedures for implementation of voter verification. They stated that all  information collected would be reviewed against the Register of Deaths and Immigration records and, subsequently, the updated list would be posted in the Gazette, local newspapers and online.  The Electoral Commission also stated that provisions  were made for those whose name were inadvertently left off the list. These persons could submit a Statutory Declaration to Electoral Office with supporting documents to confirm that they should be on the list. That Press Release seemed to have covered all the pertinent issues. Nowhere in that Press release was there any mention of Missions be opened overseas to reconfirm voters. Was Mr. Burton aware of that fact and chose to suppress it or was that something he was asked to include by 'those who have him over a barrel'? If so Mr. Burton needs to tell the Dominican people who asked him to include this vexing and dangerous component of the proposed amendments? Why he chose to recommend that those clauses be included in the Amendments sent to the Office of Attorney General? 

In fact, in Mr. Burton's letter to the Stakeholders and the Parliamentary Opposition, dated 6th September 2018, he purports that this provision was also problematic for the Electoral Committee. Indeed, in his letter, he stated that the Committee was deadlocked on that matter. So, if the Committee was deadlocked, why go ahead with this action? How did the measure get included? Did it come from the Attorney General, the Prime Minister or the other labor co-conspirators? Did they cast the deciding vote? Mr. Burton is fully aware that including such procedures in the Amendments would give the ruling Party an unfair advantage over a very large pool of Voters, because they already have the experience with locating such voters.  For that matter the party would be able deploy their acolytes to make sure that all their party faithfuls get their National ID Cards who in turn usually vote for the Labor Party  en bloc! Would that be fair? Is the  Commission going to set up facilities all over the world? So that all voters have equal access due to the time limit Mr. Chairman? How much is that exercise going to cost the Dominican people? Is that a good use of the country's resources? 

Attempting to enshrine amendments to the  Electors Act that could infringe on the voting rights of some Dominicans is immoral, unethical and downright diabolic. This action would remove an important voting process from its usual place and put in areas which could be controlled by the Ruling Labor party.  This party does not have a record of employing anyone who does not tow Party Line. In his letter, Mr. Burton stated that the Electoral Commission would have full control over all Registration Offices? Really! A Commission that favors the Ruling Party? How can the public be assured of the integrity of the process when it is is removed from the natural confines of the country? Where are the checks and balances? Would the Commission have the power to dedicate someone's home as an Office? Where will the National ID Cards be stored? Under someone's bed!!  Mr. Burton, do you think that this is fair?  Or is that the plan?  Whose rights are being protected? How is taking authority for voting from the Electoral Office in Dominica and bestowing it onto Missions, or possibly private homes, pizza parlors, all over world protecting the voting rights of people who live in Dominica?

This Amendment to the Electors Act is something that should not be included because there is insufficient time for the people to have their input. How can Labor-party dominated Electoral Commission approach this process in such a haphazard manner, with no input from the public? Mr Burton, Why can't you see that this measure hold the potential for abuse? Or is that the plan? Which Constituencies would be represented by offices in New York, New Jersey, Toronto or London? Those offices have been used in the past election cycles as recruitment centers for Labor supporters. 

The process of going overseas to reconfirm or enroll voters appears to be a plan to ensure that the ruling Labor Party is able to maintain support from its dwindling overseas base. In particular, those supporters living outside of Dominica who were transported to Dominica to vote in past elections and tip the results in Labor Party's favor. The Labor Party want to ensure that those in this category receive National ID card and will be able to vote in the next election; this is wrong! By removing this process from Dominica, will inevitably disenfranchise some voters leaving overseas; those who may not be able to get to that particular Mission to register. Allowing the process to remain in one central place (Dominica), as outlined in existing Statutes, would be the only fair way to remove any special advantage of competing parties and alleviate infringement of voters' rights.  Dominicans who move overseas do so by choice.  Why should they receive any special treatment?

 Democracy means "rule by the people". It refers to  the people who will be living under a particular ruling administration. If such a  government is is being selected by the Voting Power of those not being governed then that is not Democracy.  The proposed  Amendment to the Electors Act as it stands have the potential of disenfranchising large swathes of eligible voters and must not go forward.  Dominicans must stand together to counter this deceptive maneuver  by the ruling party to grab power and ensure that they rule forever. Seriously, in a time when Dominicans should be focusing on keeping themselves safe during the peak hurricane season, they have to be fighting to maintain their democratic rights. That is so unconscionable. Nevertheless, it's imperative to stand together, lock hands, vow to protect democracy,  and move the country forward out of its current morass.