December 23, 2005
OAS Mission: More training needed

While satisfied with the conduct of the recent general elections and with the manner in which the authorities ensured adherence to the constitution, the Electoral Law and relevant regulations, the OAS Observer Mission has recommended the voters’ list be analyzed, streamlined and managed to “clarify the regulations relating to voter registration.”

The OAS also suggested “systematic civic education for the citizenry” and enhanced training of electoral officers to ensure greater familiarity with voting procedures, and a strengthening of the electoral office for it to be more independent.{{more}}

These recommendations were made by Chief of Mission, Assistant Secretary General Albert R. Ramdin, in his preliminary (oral) report to the OAS Permanent Council last Thursday. He stated the Mission’s “satisfaction with the conduct of the elections,” and noted “some shortcomings in electoral procedures,” but stressed that these “did not jeopardize the transparency and outcome of the elections.”

The OAS observed all aspects of the voting process, including the opening of polling stations, voting throughout the day, the closing procedures at the polling stations, the preliminary vote count at the polling stations, and the transport of the results and the ballot boxes to returning officers of selected constituencies.

Ramdin thanked the governments of Brazil and the United States for their financial contributions that helped finance the OAS Electoral Observation Mission. He thanked the government and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines for their collaboration and for facilitating the Mission’s work.

For his part, St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Ambassador, Ellsworth John, thanked the OAS for the high-level observation mission, and noted that despite the “well-known tradition for free and fair elections in my country,” it was also very important that, “in the interest of transparency, reputable and independent organizations or entities observed our electoral process.” He also expressed his thanks to the Governments of Brazil and the United States for their assistance.

In addressing the concern about the discrepancies between the voters’ list and the population census, John asked for OAS assistance to correct “what we see as a problem.” He said OAS assistance is important in order “for us to implement the first recommendation of the Mission.” He requested that the technical assistance include computerizing the immigration process.