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House amends ‘People’s Act’

House amends ‘People’s Act’

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Elections in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are constitutionally due in 2006. There will therefore be an enumeration of the voters list to determine the correct number of eligible voters in the country.

With this in mind the “Representation of the People’s Act 2005” was introduced and debated in the House of Parliament on Monday to make provision for the inclusion of scrutinizers for the enumeration process. {{more}}

In his debate on the Bill, Minister of National Security the Sir Vincent Beache, said that because of the Government’s belief in transparency, the Bill was brought to the House for “all and sundry to be aware of what is taking place.” He said it was debated in the house so that no one thinks that the election process is rigged.

The National Security Minister outlined that they wanted to give the inclusion of scrutinizers a legal standing so as not to have too much debate on the subject and also for it to be even fairer.

Sir Vincent pointed to a number of reasons for the enumeration of the electors list. He said that the draft census report had the population at about 106, 000 people with 43,868 under the age of 19 leaving the population of eligible voters at 64,643.

Sir Vincent added that the current voters list had 90,703 eligible voters registered, which left an unaccountable number of 26,060 persons.

Minister Beache outlined that the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines will be paying for the employment of the 130 scrutinizers.

The Unity Labour Party(ULP) and the New Democratic Party(NDP) the two recognized political parties in the country – will each appoint 65 scrutinizers. A scrutinizer will work along with each of the enumerators.

Leader of the Opposition Ahrnim Eustace, said he agreed with the amendment of the Bill however, he had other concerns in regards to Section 10(a) of the Bill which states that only parties represented in the House of Parliament are eligible to have scrutinizers. He said that it was not very democratic and referred to a situation where a party wins all seats in the house with the losing parties still having a significant number of supporters in the public. That he said does not make provision for a system that does not use proportional representation.

Eustace suggested alternatives for democratizing the Bill. He said that it should allow all registered parties a chance or specify that a party should have secured a percentage of votes to be eligible to select a scrutinizer on its behalf.

Registering officers in the different constituencies will act as enumerators. For the enumeration exercise, the 15 constituencies are divided. South Windward, Marriaqua, Northern and Southern Grenadines in one group, North and Central Windward in one group, North windward, South Leeward, West and Central Kingstown in another, East Kingstown, East and West St. George in one with Canouan and Mayreau to be enumerated separately.

Training of enumerators began on February 14th. Training sessions with also be arranged for the scrutinizers. (API)

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