by Linda Straker
- Current voter registration system is 12 years old, and software company no longer in operation
- 2022 Caricom election observer team recommended constituency boundaries be clearly demarcated
- Governor-General responsible for appointing a Boundaries Commission
The Parliamentary Elections Office (PEO) has begun consultation with civil society organisations and representatives of political parties with a view to adopting a new voter registration system and enforcing a recommendation from the 2022 Caricom election observer team that boundaries for constituencies are to be clearly demarcated.
Notes of the meeting publicly circulated by the civil society organisations indicated that the Systems Administrator at the PEO explained why there is need for a new voter registration system. The current system is 12 years old, and the company that built and designed the specifications for the software is no longer in operation.
“Certain certificates on the system had expired and there was no manual or documentation on what was to be done in that event. The proposed new system would integrate with other departments and would be capable of disaggregating data and doing more analysis of the data collected during the registration process. It would be able to produce information significant to the economic development of the country,” said the notes from the grouping of civil society organisations.
With regard to demarcating the constituency boundaries, the PEO is not responsible for splitting up constituencies. The Governor-General is responsible for appointing a Boundaries Commission as outlined in Section 55 of the Constitution.
The purpose of the Commission is to review the number and boundaries of the constituencies into which Grenada is divided and submit to the Governor-General reports showing the constituencies into which it recommends that Grenada should be divided.
“There shall be a Constituency Boundaries Commission for Grenada which shall consist of the Speaker, as Chairman; 2 members appointed by the Governor-General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Prime Minister; and 2 members appointed by the Governor-General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Leader of the Opposition.” Members of Parliament and Public Officers are prohibited to be appointed as members of the commission.
Research has shown that some points of demarcation for constituencies read as business places, such as shops and homes that no longer exist, but the PEO continues to enforce the recommended Constituency Boundaries Commission order, which in some cases in more than 40 years.
Besides permanent demarcation, the Commission may also have to report on dividing several constituencies. St David and St George’s South are 2 of the constituencies that have been spoken about for dividing up.
The Constitution said that as soon as may be after the Commission has submitted a report, the Prime Minister shall lay before the House of Representatives for its approval the draft of an Order by the Governor-General for giving effect, whether with or without modifications, to the recommendations contained in the report, and that draft Order may make provision for any matters which appear to the Prime Minister to be incidental to or consequential upon the other provisions of the draft.
“Where any draft Order submitted to the House of Representatives under this section gives effect to any such recommendations with modifications, the Prime Minister shall lay before the House together with the draft Order a statement of the reasons for the modifications,” said the constitution.
If the motion for the approval of any draft Order laid before the House of Representatives under this section is rejected by the House, or is withdrawn by leave of the House, the Prime Minister shall amend the draft Order and lay the amended draft before the House.