Attorney at Law and Member of the Electoral Commission, Lennox Lawrence believes that Dominicans living abroad should be afforded the right to participate in the electoral process of Dominica.
Mr. Lawrence says he is of the view that the five-year requirement that determines one’s eligibility for voting should either be removed or the period be extended.
“The law as it is and as I understand it is that the constitution gives you the right to vote. So for example we could look at a 10-year period but with other considerations,” Mr. Lawrence stated. He added, “You see because in the Canadian case, and one should look at that, in the Canadian case the court was saying that the right to vote; it started off by persons owning property.”
“Before 1951 when we got the franchise, the universal right to vote, your right to vote depended on how much property you had or if you had a certain minimum amount of property in Dominica. And so the Canadian court was saying that because the right to vote was tied to property rights and persons who had property within that five-year-period, they would be in the jurisdiction exercising rights over the property and if they left and they were not there within five years, it was almost like they had abandoned the property and abandoned their titles.”
“That is how this 5-year thing came about,” he said.
The Attorney said the five-year limitation is unnecessary and should be removed from the law.
“You know we have a number of persons who have migrated for better economic possibilities but they’re in connection with the country,” Lawrence said.
“They have homes, they have accounts in the banks, so we want their money, but we don’t want them to vote” Host of Anou Palay, Prime Minister Skerrit added to Mr. Lawrence’s comments.
Meanwhile, the Attorney-at-law, Lennox Lawrence added, “Someone from the commonwealth, someone could leave Australia and come to Dominica and after one year of residence they can vote. This foreign person could vote and even contest elections, but one would want to prevent a Dominican who has been in connection with Dominica, sending remittances, caring for their families, even sending for their families to get immigration status in those countries.”
“So, in my view that five-year limitation is archaic, is unnecessary and should be removed from the law,” Attorney-at-law and Member of the Electoral Commission, Lennox Lawrence stated.