For Democracy

Submitted by Debra Ifill

Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart and Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite both admitted that they spotted voter irregularities during the last general election. Up to the time of posting this article they have done nothing to address it as promised.

I am minding my business but I would like to know what did David Thompson know in 2007 when he suggested that we might need to have election monitors? Was that a smoke screen? Many persons may not want to believe it and it may be alarming to some. Too often for my comfort, I am over-hearing conversations about padding of the voters’ lists at the last general election. You may not want to believe, but never doubt.

There seems to be a growing sense that improprieties took place as it relates to padding of the 2013 voters’ lists. Voter padding occurs where voters are moved onto voter lists and into constituencies other that where they live solely for the purpose of bumping up the vote count of a candidate. I am told that in one constituency, as many as 800 persons might have been moved onto their list. Again, I have no direct evidence, but I am concerned by the frequency with which I am hearing this conversation, and across constituencies. I am also forced to ask the question. Does talk of producing the voters’ list in pdf format rather than Microsoft Access have any relation to the issue of voter padding? This would be a rather curious undertaking.

If all of this is true, our democracy is under significant threat. Three things are important here.

Firstly, I am calling on The Electoral and Boundaries Commission to assure the public that it is free of political interference, and that its policies and protocols do not permit such illegal activity.

Secondly, I am calling on all candidates and their representatives, but especially those who lost narrowly last election, to exercise the greatest vigilance in ensuring that electors who appear on their voters’ list do in fact reside in their constituency. This will be critical to ensuring that the people of Barbados truly gain the government they desire from the upcoming general elections.

Thirdly, in the absence of election monitors, there are enough freely educated Barbadians with the awareness and skills to form an independent watch-dog group to monitor the movement of electors on the voters’ list.

We cannot afford another post-election day ‘How did this happen’, with The DLP having secured another term in office. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.