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Voters’ list needs to be cleansed

Voters’ list needs to be cleansed


The Organization of American States is to make recommendations to St. Vincent and the Grenadines about the cleansing of this country’s voters’ list.{{more}}

This was disclosed by Supervisor of Elections Sylvia Findlay Scrubb in an interview with SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday.

Throughout the campaign leading up to the General Elections, many persons have questioned how could the voters’ list exceed 100,000, while the 2001 census puts the population of the country at 107,000.

SEARCHLIGHT asked Scrubb to give an estimate of the size of the electorate. However, she declined, saying even though she has a personal calculation which was worked out with the Statistical Unit, she would rather indicate that 62,993 persons went to the polls on Monday, December 13.

This works out to a voter turnout of 62.3%, which in reality should be much higher given the census figures.

“They [The Statistical Unit] say how many people are under 18 and we subtract that from the population of about 107[000]. Then you can work out approximately how many people of voting age are in the country,” said Findlay-Scrubb.

She said it certainly cannot be the 101,052 which is the number of people on the Voters’ List.

“I have worked out a figure, but because it is not scientific, I would not like to comment,” said Findlay.

The 2001 Population Census prepared by the Statistical Unit shows at that time there were 53,626 males and 52,627 females in the contry. Today, there are approximately 30,000 persons living in St.Vincent and the Grenadines below the voting age.

Meanwhile, the Organization of American States (OAS) has unofficially recommended to Findlay-Scrubb that the electoral list be cleansed.

“That will come in their report…the report will come. What I’ve been told is that they [The OAS] will go back and will do some further research given our situation and then they will make recommendations through the report,” Findlay-Scrubb said.

She noted the OAS report will be forwarded to St.Vincent and the Grenadines early next year.

Findlay Scrubb said removing names from the Voters’ list is not as easy as it may seem to some.

She said people may know an individual by a particular name. However, when that person goes to be registered, his or her birth certificate has a different name, which may be the same as another person from the neighbourhood where he or she lives.

“The person who is there [on the Voters’ List] is a totally different person. People just looking at a name do not have the benefit of the statistical data that we have, including a photograph of the person,” said Findlay-Scrubb.

Commenting on complaints regarding the names of dead people being on the Voters’ List, Findlay-Scrubb commended the New Democratic Party (NDP) for its critique of the list. However, she said that they were only able to come up with 553 names.

“We [Electoral Office] looked at it, we made our checks and investigations and we removed as many as we could have removed,” said Findlay-Scrubb.

She said in some instances, the Registry had no records to show that persons indicated had died.

“And so we cannot remove that person’s name, because the minute we remove it, the person may show up and that person could now take us to court because we removed their name illegally,” said Findlay-Scrubb, as she spoke of some of the challenges that she is faced with.

She said that she is also mindful that some persons have migrated. However, she noted that she is also cognizant of the fact that there are people who return home every year.

The Representation of the People Act, 1982 states that a person has to be out of the state for five years or more and must not have returned during that time in order for their name to be removed from the Voters’ List.

On reports being circulated that the police arrested persons for trying to vote twice on Elections Day, Findlay-Scrubb responded: “That’s not true; totally false. …I know if the police had arrested anybody they would have informed us and they would have had to go through the Returning Officer. I have spoken to, well except the Returning Officer for the Southern Grenadines, I’ve seen all of them and had discussions with them,” said Findlay-Scrubb as she refuted such claims. (HN)