Letters

Open questions on the recent press release by PEO/SOE

In accordance with the recent Press Release by the Parliamentary Elections Office (PEO) on expired Voter Identification Cards, the following is suggested as pertinent concerns for the Media to quiz the Supervisor of Elections (SOE) as soon as possible and the government at its upcoming weekly Post-Cabinet press briefing aptly.

  1. Is the PEO or the SOE comfortable with the legal advice obtained?
  2. Has the Legal Affairs department satisfactorily addressed the three or four proposals raised at the earlier Press Conference by the PEO, especially in deciding should the replaced or new Voter Identification Cards “have a valid period of ten years …. whether it is a ten-year period (fixed expiry date) or a ten year card (matures after ten years)”?
  3. What rationale and yardstick would be applied to overcome the “administrative hurdle” to replace expired Voter Identification Cards effectively, without any specific legal mechanism?
  4. Does an expired Voter Identification Card means an illegal card?
  5. Is having an expiry date on the Voter Identification Card makes the card invalid and/or illegal?
  6. What constitutes a valid and/or legal Voter Identification Card?
  7. Is there a legal and/or administrative prescribed format for the Voter Identification Card? If yes; what is this “prescribed format”?
  8. Could an expired Voter Identification Card be used to vote in elections?   If not, what is the legal basis for preventing an elector to vote with such a card?
  9. In summary, what is the intent of the Act (RPA)?
  10. How does administrative replacement of an expired Voter Identification Card, without any legal provision or backing, fulfill the intent of the Act?
  11. Is an elector legally obligated to replace his/her expired Voter Identification Card?
  12. Is it legally necessary for an expired Voter Identification Card to be replaced; and if yes, why or for what purpose?
  13. Could the administrative requirements that a registered elector presents his/her expired card, birth certificate or valid passport when making an application for a replacement of the expired Voter Identification Card, and has his/her photograph taken, his/her fingerprint scanned and his/her signature renewed withstand in a court-of-law?
  14. Is the SOE satisfied that he is acting within his constitutional appointment, with integrity, independence, discretion and intelligence, and with full confidence that the replacement of the expired Voter Identification Cards would meet the intent of the Act?
  15. Is the SOE convinced that the present Voter Identification Card is serving its ‘one and only’ constitutional purpose?
  16. Is there any legal recourse for an elector who has adequately applied for a replacement of his/her expired Voter Identification Card, but is unable to possess promptly a replaced or new card due to delay or failure in the administration of the Voter Identification Card system; also considering the opportunity cost which may result from this delay or failure?

There seems to be more contradictions, recklessness, confusion and suspicions with the legal advice given to the PEO, and there is no accountability for any software glitch (‘manufactured or otherwise’) in producing the cards.

J.K. Roberts

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