Electoral Office ready for the vote
September 18, 2009
Electoral Office ready for the vote

We will be ready!

That was the assurance of Supervisor of Elections Sylvia Findlay-Scrubb, as she updated SEARCHLIGHT on the preparations of the Electoral Office for the November 25 referendum that will determine if St. Vincent and the Grenadines gets a new constitution.{{more}}

In fact, she said, employees of the department are looking forward to this year’s poll, since they also view it as part of the preparedness process for next year’s general elections.

“For all of us, it is going to be a learning experience,” she said. “It is something new and different and the staff is enthusiastic and we will do what is required of us.

“We are attempting to have everything in place … and I am fairly confident that we will be ready.”

Findlay-Scrubb said the two-month notice given for the referendum was ample time for her staff to prepare, since that time is more than what is usually given before a general elections.

The former educator said that office staff and constituency workers are currently preparing and issuing new identification cards, which she explained are not necessary for the referendum vote.

Any legitimate form of identification can be used for the referendum vote, she added.

The elections chief also sought to reassure Vincentians that there was no way the new electronic ID cards, if used during the referendum, would be manipulated to produce a “yes” vote as was being suggested.

“We said it was a machine readable card because there are certain machines that have been made to read this card, so they could see if it is a genuine card. It has nothing to do with polling, because all you do on polling day is show your card — the (elections) officer doesn’t take that card and use it at all.”

To assure Vincentians of the integrity of the process to be used during the referendum, Findlay-Scrubb explained that the ballot paper will be imported, but the ballots will be printed here.

This will be done under the strictest of security procedures, very close to the day of voting in order to prevent any irregularities. The supervisor also indicated that the same ink and paper will be used as in previous elections, but the biggest difference with the referendum vote is that instead of party symbols and the name of election candidates, there will be a question to which the voter will mark YES or NO.

This question, Findlay-Scrubb said, is expected to be a simply worded one, which will be formulated by Parliament.

Findlay-Scrubb made it clear it was not the responsibility of her office to educate voters on the constitution or whether to answer “yes” or “no” to the question, but on what constitutes a good or bad ballot.

The preliminary ballot counting, she added, will take place at the more than 220 polling stations, in the presence of the presiding officers, poll clerks, agents for the political parties and security officers.

To date, over 90 000 persons are eligible to vote in the referendum, but Findlay-Scrubb said this number had been fluctuating due to the issuing of new ID cards, deaths and migration.

A final voters list should be available in October.

With regional and international observers expected to visit for the historic vote – the first in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) – Findlay-Scrubb said the event would be a test of the accuracy of the updated voting system and whether it satisfies the purpose for which it was created.