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RGD and ECJ should join hands in cleaning voters' list - Anderson

Published:Tuesday | March 15, 2016 | 12:00 AMJason Cross
Don Anderson
Orette Fisher

Pollster Don Anderson is recommending closer ties between the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) and the Registrar General's Department (RGD) to clean up the voters' list.

With thousands of persons who have either died or migrated believed to be on the list, Anderson is joining those calling for urgent changes.

"In terms of the people who have died, you could clearly get through to the Registrar of Births and Deaths and see if you can remove those persons from the list because you must be able to authenticate that," Anderson told a recent Gleaner Editors' Forum.

"In terms of the persons who have migrated, you have to cooperate with authorities around the world, of course - the United States, United Kingdom and Canada particularly - to see where these people are," added Anderson.

200,000 names

to BE removeD

A total of 1,824,410 people were eligible to vote in last month's general election. It is estimated that more than 200,000 names should be removed from the list because these persons have either died or live in another country.

But Director of Elections Orette Fisher said that while the law requires that the list of persons who have died be made available to the ECJ, there have been some problems.

"The law requires that we get from the Registrar General Department the list of persons who have died, and we are getting that on an ongoing basis every quarter," said Fisher.

He indicated, however, that the information that the RGD gets, and which is reported, is not necessarily correct sometimes. For example, he said, while the next of kin may know the name of the person who died, the date of birth may not be correct. " ... They know you're born sometime in July and they say you were born July 5, even though you were really born July 10 and you (were) born in 1957, (but) they say you were born in 1956. That is the information that the registrar general has," noted Fisher.

He argued that it would be difficult for the RGD to link births and deaths because there is nothing distinctive to differentiate persons with similar names.

"It is not able to link births and deaths because there is no unique number. We get all we can from the Registrar General's Department, but when we get a name from the registrar general, if you have 50 such persons on the list with that name, we have to check all 50 to find out who has died, and we have been doing that," added Fisher.

He continued: "In addition to that, we link with the police, we speak to churches, we speak to funeral homes, so we do everything that we can to get the names of dead persons, who we remove on an ongoing basis."

As it relates to persons who have migrated, Fisher said that those names would eventually be taken off the list after proper verification is done.