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Eustace reiterates call to abolish Special Voter Registration period

Eustace reiterates call to abolish Special Voter Registration period

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The opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) has restated its call for the government to abolish the Special Voter Registration period ahead of general elections.{{more}}

The legal provision allows voter registration for 15 days after an election writ is issued.

Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace reiterated his party’s position last week Thursday on the NDP’s weekly night-time programme on NICE Radio.

The report on the 2010 General Elections, released to the media this month, said the Special Voter Registration period “proved to be the most challenging period of the entire preparation for the General Elections”.

Supervisor of Elections Sylvia Findlay said the monitoring process “degenerated into confrontation between the opposition party supporters”.

With the support of the police, her office was able to ensure that the situation “did not escalate into violent clashes,” she further said.

The CARIOCOM observer mission, in its report, also noted claims of illegitimate voter transfer during the period.

It further noted that since 2005, the National Monitoring and Consultative mechanism signalled the special registration period “had serious implications for the conduct of free and fair elections”.

Eustace noted that the NDP last year staged a protest over the registration period.

“We have asked consistently for the removal of the special registration period. We had a protest on that last year,” he said in response to a caller to “NDP Night-time”.

The caller wanted to know about the NDP’s plans to deal with challenges presented by the special registration period.

“We have interacted with international organisations, the Organisation of American States, all of them, on that matter. They have put that in their report and recommended that it be removed, but the government of St Vincent would not remove it,” he further said.

“You have to go at it all the time and now that the election report for 2010 is out, again, the point is again being made …” Eustace further said.

The CARICOM mission recommended that the special registration period “be re-examined with a view to amending the legislation in order to ensure that an adequate period is provided for objection to names of voters on the Preliminary List and hearing such objections before the final list is published”.

The Commonwealth observer mission said the special registration period contributed to a voter registration list that was almost as large as the population.

Eustace said the number of persons who registered during the special period was more than the Unity Labour Party won the elections by.

“… the government has to change it. And despite the recommendations of the Christian Council, the monitoring mechanism people, the OAS, the Commonwealth Secretariat and ourselves, the government has refused to change it,” he said.

SEARCHLIGHT, in its editorial of November 30, 2010, called for the special registration period to be abolished. (kentonchance@searchlight.vc)

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