The electoral observation mission of the Organization of American States (OAS) that observed the general elections in St Vincent and the Grenadines on December 9, 2015, presented its final report to the electoral authorities and to OAS member states on Friday.
The report notes the efforts by the Electoral Department to significantly improve, purge and update the voters list, thereby providing a more accurate reflection of voter participation. The document suggests that this be a regular exercise in order to maintain a consistently clean electoral list. It further highlighted the implementation of an improved national identity card as one of the features of the elections.
The mission, headed by Jacinth Henry-Martin, former Chief of Staff to the OAS secretary general, also underscored the historic voter turnout of 74 percent and the high level of participation of women in most areas of the electoral/political process. Nevertheless it noted that this trend was not reflected in the number of female candidates, who comprised only 16.28% of the total number of candidates. In this regard, the mission encouraged the initiation and/or strengthening of training programs in women’s political leadership.
In terms of the challenges, the final report reflects the lack of campaign financing legislation in St Vincent and the Grenadines, an issue which has been the subject of previous recommendations by OAS electoral observations missions. The report recommends drawing on the experiences of other countries in the region that have made positive strides in this regard.
The report further states that, while the conduct of the election was without any major incident, the mission identified some areas where the election process could have been improved.
The mission’s recommendation is to ensure better training and stricter guidelines and procedures for poll workers in conducting the final count at polling stations.
Notwithstanding these concerns, OAS observers did not discern any fraudulent or other activities at the final count “which could have materially affected the outcome of the vote.”
The OAS mission was comprised of 13 observers from 11 countries. They observed electoral processes in 14 of the country’s 15 constituencies, visiting 74 percent of the polling stations. This is the fourth election that the OAS has observed in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.