Section 6 of the Electoral Commission Interim Act mandates the ECJ to compile and maintain the register of eligible electors.
Chairman of the Commission, Dorothy Pine-McLarty, explained that in order to effectively maintain this list “we must not only add the names of newly registered electors but we must also remove the names of electors who have died”.
“However, identifying and confirming deceased electors is not an easy task,” she said.
She was speaking at a JIS Think Tank on November 28 where the ECJ announced the start of the ‘Dead Elector Removal Exercise’, which is aimed at clearing the voters’ list of persons who have died since 1998.
Generally, the ECJ removes the names of deceased electors from the voters’ list through information provided by political parties and their representatives, the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) Returning Officers and the EOJ constituency staff. They also receive a quarterly list from the Registrar General’s Department (RGD).
“Concerns we have with that (RGD) list is that we are given name and age of death and when you seek to match that name and age to electors we have on our voters’ list, you end up with 20, 30, 40 persons with the same name, same age. As to which name you take off is a challenge,” shared Deputy Director of Elections, Earl Simpson, who was also at the Think Tank.
To ensure accuracy, the EOJ has been going into the constituencies of each elector with the same name and age provided from the RGD, to confirm which one is the correct name to remove from the voters’ list. This method, Mr. Simpson admitted, is not effective.
Through the Dead Elector Removal Exercise, a more efficient way of gathering the names of deceased electors has been identified.
While EOJ verifiers will visit almost 300,000 homes of electors 40 years and older to confirm their status on the voters’ list, the ECJ will engage public and private stakeholders to share their death records with the EOJ.
“We have started to have conversation with the Ministry of Health to ask them to give us access to their registration of death department in each hospital. If that is given, we will send data entry clerks to extract the information on persons who have died since 1998. We will be asking funeral homes, churches, the insurance companies, the RGD, the NIS, you name it, to provide us with that information,” Mr. Simpson said.
The EOJ has already received information from some stakeholders and acknowledges that a partnership of this kind will help to achieve and maintain a voters’ list that is representative of the society.
“It is the hope that we will continue with this process using this new method and have a relationship with the stakeholders going forward. So after we have exhausted the list in the hospitals, for example, we will seek to have a relationship with the hospitals where we can have the information on persons who have died, periodically,” Mr. Simpson said.
“We will seek to have a similar relationship with all the other stakeholders going forward and, hopefully, we will be more in line in identifying the persons who have died on an ongoing basis,” he added.
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