THE NEW TODAY is very much disturbed by statements made in a public forum in recent days by a senior member of the Parliamentary Elections Office (PEO) that elections cannot be rigged in Grenada.
What immediately comes to mind is why Mr. Ferdinand Phillip chose to issue such a controversial statement in the build-up to the much-anticipated June 23, 2022 general election, and whether or not there is some hidden or sinister motive involved in his utterances.
The evidence points in a quite different direction and questions might have to be asked about the suitability of Mr. Phillip to work in the PEO.
Over the years, quite blatant attempts were not only made, but succeeded in rigging elections in Grenada even during our return to the Parliamentary system of government following the collapse of the Grenada Revolution in October 1983.
These attempts are not even related to the known practice during the reign of former Prime Minister Eric Gairy when police officers and others were known to vote in multiple polling stations to secure victory for the Grenada United Labour Party (GULP) at the polls.
It is well-known that in the pre-1979 era that the dead voted in elections in the Spice Isle.
The policy of allowing persons to vote without the presentation of an ID card opens the door to cheating on Election Day.
Given the peculiar circumstances of the Town of St George where people from the rural villages frequently migrate to look for job opportunities, it is sometimes hard to identify some of the persons on the Voter’s List.
THE NEW TODAY is aware of an instance where a visitor from New York showed up at the Magistrate’s Court on St John’s Street and voted on the name of another individual who was on the list.
The old system has tightened up and might have lessened the opportunities that present themselves for the rigging of elections but Mr. Phillip is talking a lot of hogwash in suggesting that elections cannot be rigged in Grenada.
Mr. Phillip should be reminded that corrupt electoral officers are the main culprits in facilitating wrong-doing in national elections.
Former Assistant Supervisor of Elections, Emmanuel Roberts, admitted to a local media house that he was approached by an agent of the New National Party (NNP) post-1983 to switch some names between the St George South-east constituency and South St George but he did not co-operate.
If it was another person who was approached and did it then Mr. Phillip should tell the Grenadian people what that illegal act would have been called.
In the 2003 election which ended 8-7 in favour of NNP, there are more than enough credible reports that it was rigged in order to keep the incumbent in office.
Several persons voted more than once on the sister isle of Carriacou & Petite Martinique to ensure that the late Elvin Nimrod retained the seat ahead of George Prime of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
The rigging of an election is not usually done on the day of polling itself but long in advance of the date set for the election.
For example, corrupt electoral officials can easily facilitate the movement of 300 votes from the St George North-west constituency of the Prime Minister into the nearby St George North-east as part of a strategic move to flip the seat in a particular direction.
If an individual lives on the border between the two constituencies and his/her name shows up on the Voter’s list to Vote in PD 1 for St George North-east but he really should be voting in PD 1 in St George North-west, how can you deny that individual the right to cast his ballot on Election Day?
Is this deliberate gerrymandering of the elections with the help of the same PEO that Mr. Phillip works with?
The unfortunate utterances of Mr. Phillip demonstrates that he is not a good gate-keeper to have within the Electoral Office.
It is obvious that all kinds of things can happen under his watch and he will not know what to look for out of ignorance, or maybe deliberately so.
It is our contention that such an individual has no right or place being an employee in the Electoral Office.
Mr. Phillip has definitely insulted the intelligence of many educated Grenadians who are not fools or stupid enough to believe that no hanky-panky can take place in an election.
He should not be allowed to get away with this silly and unfortunate statement in the public domain and should be removed from the Electoral Office in the interest of democracy and fair play in the national interest.