OAS technical team gives new voting system the “thumbs up”

Thumbs up

The technical team from the Organization of American States who independently evaluated and assessment the new voter registration system has concluded that “the introduction of biometric identification cards and an electronic voter database constitute significant improvements in voter security, relative to the processes that were previously in place.

While the OAS team noted areas for improvement in terms of the technical capacity of internal information technology personnel as well as procedures for inter-institutional cooperation to update and cleanse the voters’ list, its verification of the electoral database by the OAS team indicated strong levels of accuracy and reliability.

According to the report “the house-to-house survey on voter registration attested to the integrity of the voter registration database: in 98% of cases, there was almost perfect correspondence between the place of residence provided by the citizen and the constituency in which that citizen was registered. Among those surveyed who claimed to have registered to vote, 95% appeared on the most recent version of the electoral list.

Further, the report noted that Grenada has significantly improved the legal framework governing the voter registration process. “The 2011 Amendment to the Representation of the People Act provides for the establishment of a permanent, centralized and computerized voter registration system, and establishes a more stringent identification requirement; both of these reforms should lead to a more secure process that increases confidence among the populace,” said that report which was release publicly on Wednesday.

“While the previous electoral code called for an enumeration exercise, and thus the creation of a new voters’ list, every five years, the 2011 Amendment grants significant discretion to electoral authorities in determining the need for and timing of future enumeration processes,” the reports said.

The team said that the Parliamentary Elections Office and the Government of Grenada made an important investment, in both financial and human terms, to implement an improved registration system ahead of the 2013 general elections. The current voters’ list evidently represents a more accurate reflection of the voting population. The assessment of the OAS Technical Team is that the voter registration system in Grenada is generally robust. Grenadian authorities deserve recognition for implementing a new system, which constitutes real progress for the organization of clean and inclusive elections in the country.

Prime Minister Tillman Thomas said that he is satisfied that his Government made the right decision in heeding the OAS calls in 1999, 2003 and 2008 for a new voter registration system.  Grenadians can now be guaranteed a free and fair election, free from the voter padding and irregularities pertaining to the electoral list of previous elections.

The technical team from the OAS visited Grenada during the period January 21st to February 1st 2013, and comprised two (2) Coordinators, two (2) IT Specialists, a Statistics Specialist and a Legal Specialist.

A copy of the full OAS report can be accessed at http://www.gov.gd/egov/pdf/OAS_Assessment_Evaluation_New_Voters_Registration_System_Grenada.pdf

By Linda Straker

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