Your Voice Matters says PM Skerrit as he invites public input on Electoral Reform Report

"Your Voice Matters," says PM Skerrit, as he invites public input on Electoral Reform Report

Prime Minister of Dominica Dr Roosevelt Skerrit presented the much-anticipated Electoral Reform” report to the public on Wednesday. The Government utilized what they are referring to as a “Nationalistic Approach” by presenting the report.

As part of the “Nationalistic Approach” the Government is calling for recommendations from the general public on the new electoral reforms report.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit himself distributed copies to the Members of Parliament, Political Parties, NGOs, churches and several other civil youth societies organizations at Wednesday’s event. Another special gathering will be hosted in the next few months for people to lend their voice to discussions and recommendations.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said people must take a few weeks to read and analyse the document, and then return at the appointed time to comment on it, providing their own perspectives.

He said the perspective of the people matters, which is why the document is being shared with the public and also available online.

“No electoral system is perfect, but we expect that due consideration will be given to the recommendations made and we will access what is practical within the context of our limited human and financial resources, cultural nuisances and the realities of time limitations to ensure that the recommendations are implemented sufficiently in advance ahead of the next general elections,” said Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit.

PM Roosevelt Skerrit distributing copies of the electoral reform report
PM Roosevelt Skerrit distributing copies of the electoral reform report

He said the Government is approaching the task with a very open mind,”You have been presented with the document within one week of my receiving it. I have not even had the opportunity to share or even discuss with my parliament colleagues. I firmly believe that it’s more important to understand what civil society has to say about it,”.

Prime Minister said that four centralized events will be hosted in a ten-day period and the government will hear from most wide and influential groups of the society.

“I also intend to share the report with regional and international luminaries, and organizations before finally tabling new draft legislations in the parliament of Dominica,” said Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit.

He added that these legislations will be enacted into law by the end of this calendar year, following thorough consultations with the general public.

PM Roosevelt Skerrit distributing copies of the electoral reform report
PM Roosevelt Skerrit distributing copies of the electoral reform report

A special press conference was hosted at the State House Conference Center, where he shared the findings of Sir Dennis Byron who acted as the sole commissioner to advance the efforts towards electoral reforms in Dominica.

The report was completed in two different phases, whereas the phase 1 report submitted last year substantially addressed the cleaning of the electoral list and registration of only eligible voters with an emphasis on voter identification.

Download Phase 1 Electoral Report Here

While the phase 2 report addressed the issues associated with the electoral process, including institutional matters such as an electoral commission, and proposed legislation for the improvement of the electoral process with emphasis on campaign financing.

Download Phase 2 Electoral Report Here

Levi Peter- Attorney General of Dominica said that the report was completed in various consultations carried out over two and a half years. He said that despite electoral officers’ saying that the process in Dominica is adequate to carry out elections, there was a call to implement electoral reforms. He said the Government recognized that the existing legislation could be improved.

Attorney General said that many people were concerned about the list of people in the electoral register and called for the usage of identification cards. He said the new legislation aims to address some of the major concerns of people.

Levi Peter- Attorney General of Dominica
Levi Peter- Attorney General of Dominica

“The Government engaged distinguished jurist, Sir Charles Dennis Byron, to undertake an exercise to review all legislations with observations and recommendations to Dominica forward in the quest for electoral reforms,” said the Attorney General.

Discussing the different clauses in Sir Dennis’ Report, Attorney General said that as per its clauses, a person’s name can be removed from the electoral list if – an objection to a person’s registration hasn’t been allowed, a person has died, or have been absent from Dominica for a period exceeding five or ten years (this will be decided following public consultations), or have been disqualified as an electoral, or a person has requested deletion of their name or registration is not confirmed.

The final report was received by the Government of Dominica on Monday and it consists of four different chapters including the following:

  1. The Draft House of Assembly (Elections) Bill 2023
  2. The Drat House of Assembly (Electors) Regulations 2023
  3. The Draft House of Assembly Election Petition Rules 2023
  4. The Draft Electoral Commission Bill 2023

Notably, Sir Dennis Byron is the Former President of the Caribbean Court of Justice and Former Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.