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Significant reduction of voters’ list not guaranteed – Findlay

Significant reduction of voters’ list not guaranteed – Findlay

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Supervisor of Elections Sylvia Findlay says that her office can reduce the size of the national voters’ list, but she does not believe that the reduction would be significant.{{more}}

During a tour by government officials and the media of the new premises of the Supervisor of Elections at Upper Bay Street, Findlay said her staff is now in a better position to tackle the list, seeing that they are all housed under one roof.

Previously, employees of the department were housed at two separate locations – on Egmont Street behind the former NCB and on Grenville Street, opposite the St George’s Cathedral.

“Now that we are comfortably placed here, then we can deal with an important matter like tackling the size of the voters’ list, but it is not an easy matter as you see; there is confusion already,” Findlay told the media.

The controversial list has a total number of voters that is close to the population of St Vincent and the Grenadines, and has been described by some as padded, bloated and overblown.

The supervisor said that the task of her office would now be to separate the people who are present and living here, or who had come to the country in the given five-year period, to get them to apply for the new identification cards, which were issued from 2009.

Findlay said that, based on her research, other Commonwealth countries with similar laws, have similar experiences when it comes to their voters’ list.

“The law says that the office of the supervisor of elections can remove names of persons who have been living out of the country for five consecutive years… therefore, if between July 2009 and July 2014, persons never show up to register, we assume that they are not living in the country.

“However, we are not going to discard their names and throw them into an inactive file; their names are going to be there, so whenever they show up and they meet the qualifications, then their name goes on to the voters’ list.

“You can ask maybe every non-Vincentian who lives here ‘are you on the voters’ list for your country of birth?’ and invariably they are going to say yes, but they are also on our voters’ list and that happens.”

According to the supervisor, it is not guaranteed that the list will be reduced considerably, but every effort will be made to have the document adjusted to show a true reflection of the voting population.

She said that office of the supervisor of elections can only do what it is permitted by law, and that any other changes need to be addressed by legislators.

“I have made my recommendations, and both political parties have agreed that is the way we ought to go.

“In fact, the voters’ list which we see there, normally we issue just the list of voters in alphabetical order and also by polling division. This time around, we are giving the political parties a third list which will have the names of all the persons in each constituency, who have never registered since 2009, so that persons here now have a chance to look at the list and see if they or a relative is on the list.

“When they come to the country, they need to come, register, get their ID card and then their name is on the active list of voters.”(JJ)

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