For the record…
THE EDITOR, Sir:
The Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) takes note of The Gleaner's lead story captioned 'Voters list 'dead' wrong', published on Tuesday, August 18, 2015, and wishes to bring the following information to the attention of the public.
The ECJ acknowledges that it faces challenges with removing dead electors from the voters' list, but has been prudent in using multiple methods to do so.
The ECJ publishes a voters' list twice each year (May 31 and November 30). This biannual updating of the list allows for the addition of newly registered electors and the removal of electors who are no longer eligible to be on the list, such as those who are reported and confirmed dead.
One of the primary sources of information on deceased persons is the Registrar General's Department (RGD). Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act states that:
The Registrar General shall, at intervals of three months, transmit to the Chief Electoral Officer a list specifying the names, addresses, occupations, of all adults, who have died during that three months.
While getting information from the RGD is an important mechanism in determining the names of persons who have died, it is NOT the only source from which the ECJ receives information on deceased electors.
The additional methods include but are not limited to:
- the perusal of death notices in the print and electronic media;
- the sourcing of funeral programmes from churches and political representatives who attend funerals;
- the sourcing of information from hospitals and police stations of persons who have died;
- the soliciting of information from political representatives when they attend the Returning Officers' Constituency Monthly Meetings;
- the sourcing of information from the political represen-tatives who, through their canvassing, become aware of the death of electors.
The staff at the ECJ's constituency offices islandwide work assiduously on a daily basis to obtain information on deceased electors and conduct the necessary field activities to confirm the information received.
The ECJ fully recognises the challenges faced by the RGD as they relate to the non-registration of deaths and the limited and restricted quality of the information provided. There is an urgent need for a national registration system which would afford every citizen a unique identification number. With this system in place, the data from the RGD would be of better assistance than it is at this time, as the ECJ would be better equipped to cross-reference the information.
Notwithstanding the challenges, the ECJ will continue its efforts to identify, confirm and remove dead electors from the voters' list.