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Over 23,500 persons earmarked to be cut from Voters’ List

Over 23,500 persons earmarked to be cut from Voters’ List

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The names of over 23,500 persons who have been earmarked to be slashed from this country’s Voters’ List will be published this Friday in the three local newspapers.

The list of names to be removed is being published in keeping with the provisions of Act No. 8 of 2015, which amends the Representation{{more}} of the People Act (RPA), Chapter 9 of the Laws of SVG, Revised Edition, 2009.

According to the amendment, only the names of persons who registered as a voter and were photographed for the purpose of being issued with a national identification card on or after June 1, 2005 and have not died, will be included on the Voters’ List.

Those persons, therefore, who have not registered since May 31, 2005, will be cut from the list.

In a meeting with the media last Thursday, officials from the Electoral Office revealed that as at June 11, 2015, 23,537 persons were down to be removed from the list of registered voters, which currently has a total of 107,000 registered voters.

When compared with the size of the population of SVG, which stands at over 109,000, the Voters’ List does not accurately represent the number of voters who satisfy the requirements of the RPA.

“I’m always at pains to say that this is a misrepresentation of what the Voters’ List ought to be, when we start to compare it with the population. Because, if you read the qualifications of a voter, you would see that persons not here in the country can maintain their voting status, so it doesn’t say that only people living in St Vincent and the Grenadines, 18 years and older, qualify to vote. Somebody may have registered as a voter, migrated, but can maintain that registration, if that individual has not stayed out of the country for a period exceeding five years,” Sylvia Findlay, supervisor of elections, said last Thursday.

Findlay noted that since 2013, the Electoral Office has been engaging with the two political parties represented in the House of Assembly and that on March 17, 2015, both parties agreed on a draft to amend the RPA, which would result in a sizeable reduction of the Voters’ List.

This amendment was tabled in the House of Assembly on May 28, debated and passed with the unanimous approval of both sides of the House.

The supervisor of elections, at last Thursday’s meeting, explained that only one section, Section 11 of the RPA, was amended.

In this section, subsection 8 was added to change the qualifying date, 1984 to June 1, 2005.

“The list we now have went back to 1984. …and 1984 was used as the qualifying date and so we just added, added, added and as we got further away from 1984, clearly the list is going to grow, so that’s what has brought us to the 107,000 plus names. So section 8 is saying, we’re going to now revise that qualifying date and it now becomes 1 June 2005. Therefore, if you did not register from 1 June 2005 to now, you are not going to be on the Voters’ List,” Findlay explained.

“If your name is not on the Voters’ List, you can’t vote; simple as that. We are not saying that everybody whose name doesn’t appear, doesn’t vote, because the law allows that if you can convince the supervisor of elections that your name was meant to be on that list and your name was left off, the supervisor of elections could allow you to vote. But it requires a lot of information.”

Of the 23,537 names to be removed as at June 11, 2015, 12,461 were males and 11,076 were females.

With the removal of these names, the Voters’ List will have 83,671 names, with 74,699 persons being registered with new ID cards and 8,972 persons being registered with old ID cards.

Deputy supervisor of elections Sylvester King noted that the exercise was an important one and encouraged persons, whose names may appear on the proposed list of removals to update their information.

“We believe that over the next few weeks, those persons who are actually here, they will capitalize on the opportunity to update their registration. We want to encourage all to really pay attention to this,” he said.

King noted that this will give persons an opportunity to peruse and perhaps inform relatives in the diaspora who are still eligible to vote, to update their registration with the Electoral Office.

According to the Representation of the People Act, a name can be deleted from the Voters’ List if the individual has died, if an objection to his/her registration has been allowed, if he/she has been absent from this country for a period exceeding five years, except in cases of absence for approved studies abroad or if he has become disqualified under any law for registration or for exercising his/her rights as a voter. (BK)

See the complete list of names to be removed from the Voters’ List in Friday’s edition of SEARCHLIGHT.

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