A written letter to Mr. Elvis Morain, Supervisor of Elections in the Parliamentary Elections Office located at Tanteen Terrace, St. George, Grenda from the Political Leader of the National Democratic Congress.
Dear Mr. Morain,
I write this open letter to you about the on-going concerns with the management of the electoral process in Grenada, particularly the functioning of sub-offices in some Constituencies. These concerns have been repeatedly brought to your attention, directly in meetings between representatives of the NDC, you and your staff, in writing by several of our intended Candidates and by reports in the media by party members and the public.
If these concerns are not immediately addressed, it will not be possible to hold free and fair elections in the future, because the electoral process will be compromised. As you know, free and fair elections are the bedrock of our democratic system and can only take place if the electoral process is transparent in accordance with the law and there is public trust and confidence in it.
You are aware of the important role that Registration Officers and their staff at the sub-offices play in the electoral process, from registration of voters and maintenance of accurate, sanitized electoral lists to conducting the poll on election day. Yet, despite repeatedly bringing them to your attention, the following concerns have not been addressed:
- In some constituencies, especially Carriacou & Petite Martinique, St. Andrew North West and the Town of Saint George, the offices are often closed during official opening hours. The result is that members of the public are prevented from getting registered to vote. Often, these citizens take time off work, only to discover that they cannot get registered. Although the main responsibility for carrying out the duties attached to the sub-offices rests with the Registration Officers, it is obvious that in many cases, the Registration Officers cannot function if their assistants are absent.
- Randomly throughout the constituencies, the systems are down during official opening hours thereby preventing people from registering. As you know, the entitlement to be registered to vote is protected by the Constitution and any suppression of efforts by citizens to get registered, is an infringement on that entitlement.
- Names that were objected to and the objections upheld, have not been purged from the list. In the case of the Town of Saint George, this is true for objections that were upheld since 2018.
- There have been inordinate and unexplained delays with processing claims and objections. Particularly relating to objections to the names of deceased persons that appear on the list, verification is quite straight-forward. Failure to process these and update the list almost 6 months after filing is inexcusable.
- Particularly in Carriacou & Petite Martinique, persons who are ineligible, being allowed to register to vote. Some ineligible people are assisted by Justices of the Peace who allow false declarations to be sworn before them.
- Lengthy delays between the registration process and availability of the Voter Registration Cards.
- The continued delayed publication of the addenda to the Consolidated list and the Consolidated list itself.
- The absence of an updated Police Voters’ list.
Many of these concerns and systemic deficiencies, including the failure to process claims and objections, the registration of people who are not entitled to be registered, assisted by Justices of the Peace and the absence of an accurate, sanitized, updated consolidated list were flagged in the report of the OAS Election Observer Mission dated 14th March 2018. Unfortunately, another election is upon us, and they have not been remedied.
Being at the core of our democratic system, the electoral process must be such that there is public trust and confidence in it. As it stands now, this required public trust is undermined because these persistent deficiencies and flaws are not being addressed. It is your responsibility to fix these flaws.
I therefore put you on notice that in the coming weeks, as Political Leader of the National Democratic Congress and on behalf of the people of Grenada, I will be escalating this matter and, in that regard, will take all steps deemed appropriate.
Dickon Mitchell Political Leader