by Emmanuel Joseph and Kimberly Cummins
The Electoral and Boundaries Commission (EBC) has announced its intention to re-register the population and issue new identification cards following the January 19 general election.
In making the disclosure on Friday, Chief Electoral Officer Angela Taylor said the move will help maintain a more accurate electoral list.
“This exercise will allow us to have a more accurate Register [of Electors] as only the names of persons who present themselves for registration will be reflected therein, after every effort is made to locate the person who does not present for registration,” Taylor told Barbados TODAY.
Her disclosure came in response to reports from a Christ Church family that their late matriarch, Iva Gertude Cummins, was still on the voters’ list, 21 years after her death. Cummins, who would have been 96 years old in July, died from breast cancer on October 27, 2001.
The family told Barbados TODAY that a January 3, 2022 circular signed by Taylor and addressed to Cummins informed her that she was registered to vote in the constituency of Christ Church West Central and provided an electoral number.
It was also stated that on Election Day, Cummins was eligible to cast her ballot at polling station CA2 at the Deighton Griffith Secondary School.
“If you submitted a change of address after December 28, 2021, and the address is not confirmed by the Electoral Department, you will continue to be registered to vote at the polling station listed above,” read the correspondence.
The deceased’s daughter, Sytel Cummins, questioned why her mother continued to receive these notices and queried how widespread this type of situation could be.
“I can’t be pleased. My mother passed away ever since, so how the hell they can still be sending these? That shows someone has to be voting in her name,” she charged.
She added that although her mother’s official death certificate and identification card were submitted to the EBC when she died in 2001, the notices have been coming ahead of every election, and each time the family has reported it to the Electoral Department.
The matriarch’s passport was also returned to the Immigration Office, her daughter added.
“Still, circulars continued to come for the 2008, 2013, 2018, and now 2022 general election,” she noted.
“I can’t remember if I had kept all the circulars or throw them away, but again in 2018 more documentation was submitted asking them to take her off the voters’ list they sent out too. When the paper came on Monday, I was very shocked because we thought it was taken off. Why are we still getting these letters? They were notified to stop sending these but they never stopped, so I have to ask the question, who is voting for her? I want her taken off once and for all and just let her continue to rest in peace,” Cummins insisted.
On Friday, the Chief Electoral Officer apologised.
“I apologise on behalf of the Electoral Department to the family of the deceased registrant and to any or all other persons who have received a circular for a deceased family member,” Taylor stated.
She explained that the Registration Department which is responsible for death records provides the names of persons who are deceased to the Electoral Department, and after following the legislated process of publishing the names “we remove them from the Register of Electors”.
Taylor contended that when members of the public provide her department with information on the death of a registrant, the name is submitted to the Registration Department for confirmation and then removed in accordance with the law.
“I cannot speak to the veracity of the claim that the Department was previously informed of the death of the registrant [at this time],” Taylor said but promised to research the report later.
“We wish to assure you that the identity of each voter is checked at the polling station, which prevents deceased persons from voting.”
Another Christ Church West Central constituent had reported that during the past week, the EBC sent her two invitations to vote in the polls under two different names – her maiden name and her married name – with two different electoral numbers.
“If I was a dishonest person, I would try to see if I can vote twice. Thank the Lord I am not, because I can’t understand how this madness could have happened,” the woman, who preferred to remain anonymous, said.
Responding to the claim, the Chief Electoral Officer told Barbados TODAY: “On the matter of a dual registration in different names being in the Register of Electors, we found no evidence of this but we welcome submissions of information to our office.” (EJ/KC)