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ABEC Stirs to Life



ABEC Stirs to Life

At last, a year in advance of general elections constitutionally due by March 2014, the Antigua & Barbuda Electoral Commission is showing visible signs of life. Chair of the commission Juno Samuel has broken his sphinx-like silence and announced the launch of the voter re-registration process in Antigua & Barbuda.

The entire project is expected to begin and be completed during the second quarter of this year, with the first list of re-registered electors due at the end of June, as mandated by the Representation of the People Act (as many times amended). In the meantime, and up until the re-registration period starts, new voters are free to continue to get on to the list of electors according to the normal procedures.



Under ordinary circumstances the scenario just described would present no issues of particular consequence. Under the Representation of the People Act, as amended prior to the 2004 general elections, the original set of voter identification cards issued in 2003 are mandated to last for 10 years. In simple terms, voter ID cards have a life of 10 years from date of issuance: ABEC would have been required to replace the entire 2003 set in 2013, in any event.

Of course, nothing prevents ABEC from recalling all voter ID cards at any time, for example to replace outdated management systems with newer, more highly developed, hopefully cutting-edge, technology. This is all part of the march of progress, and in a sense is what ABEC is embarked upon at this time. Even at this stage, barely a year before general elections, none of this would raise eyebrows significantly – if the circumstances were normal.

At the time our brave new world of electoral reform was being debated in parliament prior to 2003, the 2013 horizon for replacing voter ID cards was just that: a date when a certain set of administrative actions relating to the scheduled replacement of obsolete equipment would take place – nothing more. Even if ABEC had chosen that moment to recall and replace all existing cards with new technology, that action would most likely have been applauded as a wise management decision – no problem there.

There are, however, a couple of Jokers in every pack of cards … and quite a few of that particular species of animal are right now slinking through the undergrowth, awaiting their best moment to pounce – and wreak havoc with the process.

One of those lurking perils is the voter re-registration project itself. When the various pre-2004 amendments were being debated and arrangements were being made to give voter ID cards a 10-year life-span, the replacement of cards was viewed as part of an ongoing management process. A total re-registration of all electors was not part of the scenario. That little wrinkle was added after the 2009 general elections when the United Progressive Party faithful decided to place a major portion of the blame for their near-defeat on perfidy by non-nationals, who they felt had deserted them in droves and gone back to the Antigua Labour Party.

Consequent upon the perceived betrayal by non-nationals of Commonwealth origin, the chagrined ruling party proceeded to make some amendments of its own to the much-tweaked Representation of the People Act.

Prominent among these were measures to purge the register of electors of Commonwealth citizens who had not resided legally in the country for the seven years required to acquire citizenship. Spin doctors for the UPP are quite open and vocal about their expectations for a more UPP-friendly register of elections in the aftermath of the re-registration exercise.

Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition naturally has no intention of taking a shafting lying down, or in any position – especially since the non-national vote has long been a reliable support constituency for the ALP. True, the indications are that the non-national voters did desert the sinking Lester Bird ship in 2004, boosting a new party into power – but if the chagrined UPP now feels itself betrayed by those same voters, the opposition party is not prepared to meekly allow a vengeful UPP to deprive it of a significant source of support in 2014.

The calm before the storm will end when the first results of the re-registration process reveal that non-national electors are being systematically removed from the voters list. Already complaints have been raised that re-interpretations of the Immigration Act and Regulations are throwing the legal residence of many CARICOM nationals into question. It is therefore reasonable to expect that the opposition party will seize the right moment to rush the process into court, hoping to stop the re-registration dead in its tracks.



If and when an opposition challenge to the re-registration process makes it to court, it may run full tilt into another lurking beast: the ALP challenge to the Report of the Electoral Boundaries Commission. Arguments are scheduled to begin in the High Court of Justice on April 11 to determine whether addressable legal issues exist, and if so what remedies the court can pursue. Depending on the outcome of the court hearings, a process may begin that has the potential to consign the redrawing of constituency boundaries to the dustbin of history – at least for the foreseeable future.

This may well prove in the end to be the happiest outcome, as it would maintain the electoral status quo, simplifying the re-registration process. It would also give the impatient voters of Antigua & Barbuda – from wherever they may originate – what they really want: the opportunity to see the ruling UPP and the resurgent ALP go up against one another on the known and familiar playing field.

The ruling party must surely appreciate, even through the thick fog created by its members’ pathological self-interest, that the average voter instinctively sees the headlong drive by the United Progressive Party government to re-jigger the electoral boundaries to its own specifications as repugnant. If it does not grasp this subtle aspect of the developing political situation, the neurotic ruling party may find that the re-registration of electors contributes mightily to its defeat in March 2014.

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13 Comments In This Article   

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RE: ABEC Stirs to Life



#13 forever 21 » 2013-04-04 13:31

What is up with Juno and all dat dashiki?? :D :lol: :D I know it is important to remember ones ancestors, but he has taken it to a whole new level. Could Kunta-Kentay afford Juno's expensive dashiki?? :D :lol:
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forever 21

solutions must recognize current realities

#12 tenman » 2013-04-01 14:21

YOUTH ELIJAH, since your version of making it simple also includes reducing the number of persons who can are eligible to vote, how about we make it even simpler: Lets make it so that only persons who have property can vote. Wait, we tried that already. Since citizenship is your suggested criteria and its a known fact that even after applying, the process takes years, don't you see your proposed solution could simply be used as a tool by government to disenfranchise potential voters? Barriers are already being placed via the interpretation of residency for citizenship purposes and there you go asking for more confusion yet strangely arguing:
Quote:
those eligible to vote, can and are allowed to freely vote
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tenman

YOUTH ELIJAH

#11 skyewill » 2013-04-01 10:30

What you may be looking at is a republic. The office Of GG/representative of the slave owner would have to be eliminated. Sometimes I close my eyes and try to conceptualize a Queen/King over a 95% African descent. Then I pick up the history books or reminded of the days when I sat at the feet of the elders included Tim Hector who told stories of the past and the way our fore parents were treated by those you call your queens and kings. I have nightmares of me running through the bushes of Sutherlands, chased by dogs and men with guns, trying to reach Boggy Peak now called Mount Obama by those who further seek to distort our past.
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skyewill

KEEP VOTER REGISTRATION SIMPLE!!!

#10 YOUTH ELIJAH » 2013-03-31 09:02

I am of the opinion that while the voter re-registration process is necessary, it has and is being seriously overly inflated, complex and costed out in our country. Coming from my training which I shared with the supervisor of elections from the OAS on voter registration systems in the Americas:

The Democratic Process calls for two (2) simple things:
1 - those eligible to vote, can and are allowed to freely vote
2 - and that those eligible to vote only vote once

to say it cost well over a million dollars to carry out the later is ridiculous..

In our much needed electoral reform... as I've said before:

1 - I'd like to see the eligibility for voting be citizens only, with a civic registry being establish, so once you are born or naturalized Antiguan or Barbudan living at home or abroad you are eligible

2 - our constituencies should be reduced to 8 and based on parishes and stop dividing communities (6 in Antigua, 1 in Barbuda & 1 of the entire nation so the people can elect who we want as PM) & to empower voters recall legislation needs to be passed, to keep politicians accountable
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YOUTH ELIJAH

RE: ABEC Stirs to Life



#9 A National » 2013-03-31 04:02

Voting is not a privilege, it is a right. Commonwealth citizens who previously registered under the 3 year rule and voted in previous elections, cannot be now denied the right to register and vote. Residential qualification, which is what Justin-Spencer-Cort them have injected into the amended legislation with the hope of denying a set of voters from registering is unconstitutional and will surely be challenged by the Opposition. Once you are 18yrs of age, voted previously, the 7yr qualification criteria cannot apply. You cannot take away an established right as if it is a privilege
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A National

Really..??

#8 QUEEN » 2013-03-30 23:15

How can anyone take these people seriously when the chairman dresses like he is going to a Halloween party.....what a clown....now everyone has to re-register..?? i smell another Gerry Watt move here...there is no hope...we are just like so many corrupt African countries...the motto is TIEF THE ELECTION THEN TIEF THE MONEY....they are all the same....
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QUEEN

rupert j.

#7 tenman » 2013-03-30 15:13

rupert j, in this case non-continuous residency means the persons (Caricom residents only not other non nationals) if they even leave the island for a day, will have gaps, which may render them unable to meet the criteria for citizenship and possibly even vote. Non Caricom nationals can leave for no more than 6 months in a year and not have this problem. Do you still think I am chatting pure nonsense?

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tenman

rupert j

#6 tenman » 2013-03-30 15:06

rupert j please read the following article (the writer of this article also briefly mentioned the issue):

Quote:
Non-Commonwealth nationals seeking naturalization who would have left the country for a period under six months would not see a hindrance to their status if they choose to pursue the option of naturalization after the seven-year timeline. This is supported in the constitution. There is no support, however, for Commonwealth citizens for this, and people who leave the country within the seven-year period will have gaps in their status that could hinder their application Read more: http://www.Caribarena.com/antigua/news/latest/99462-govt-to-address-immigration-loophole.html#ixzz1vuRN6BTc Read more: http://www.Caribarena.com/antigua/news/latest/100605-dr-cort-clarifies-citizenship-rules.html#ixzz2P3FubheI
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tenman

pure nonsense

#5 rupert j. » 2013-03-30 14:00

@sky. and ten. I have no idea what you guys are talking about, from what I understand if you are in the country continuously for seven years and at registration time you meet the qualification you can register to vote I dont see what is so complicated about that. Ruling parties in or out of office always try to skew things in their favor sometimes it works sometimes it does'nt. In the place where I live it rakes ten years from resedency to citerzenship before you can cast a vote and that's the way it is.
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rupert j.

@ skye ... TIME LONGER THAN ROPE

#4 Professor » 2013-03-30 12:40

According to my favourite cheerleader:

Quote:
If anyone introduce a new party anytime after now, they would be doing the people an injustice ...
Here are the AIRTIGHT arguments he makes to support his claim of INJUSTICE:

Quote:
We would not have enough time to really see them for who they are.

We would get what we got in 2004 where out of desperation the ALP lost. It is not that UPP won but ALP lost.

I believe any group could have won in 2004, but I do not believe that any group cannot win in 2014.

It will be either UPP or The New ABLP with a new leader and leaders do matter as you can clearly see.
TRANSLATION: The ABLP is a deeply divided party that can cannot win the next election, its only hope is for UPP to lose the election.

The biggest problem for ABLP is the 41% that are looking for a New Party, so my duty as a ABLP cheerleader is to discredit the idea of a New Party, even if what I am saying makes absolutely no sense.

IF YOU FAIL TO PLAN YOU PLAN TO FAIL: We have no PLANS from ABLP or UPP, so their ideas are equally UNVETTED as any New Party.
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Professor

@tenman

#3 skyewill » 2013-03-30 11:47

You are on point again. Too much mess and VERY SMARTNESS. I am going with the guy who says I am included. I know it's talk but I can clearly see where I am surely NOT included. When It becomes more important to build a building than to make sure that people get paid after they work hard is NOT a PEOPLE FIRST policy, Right? and I don't have a third party to go to, Right? Then Wah fu do? You know what to do. Send a message that you want your pay. Send a message you do not want that power CAN"T called WPP. Let them know that 50 million in fences that are broken down right now nar put food pan you table. Me feel sorry for the police, the teachers and the workers who are loosing their homes, cars, can't pay children's school fees and to that mom over in Big creek who I personally saw kids going to school without breakfast, tell her help is on the way. Tell those frauds NO MORE!
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skyewill

re-interpretations of the Immigration Act and Regulations

#2 tenman » 2013-03-30 08:45

I listened to a recent interview with ABEC's chairman where he suggested that a major reason for a smaller list, will be the new 7 year residency requirement for CARICOM nationals. The seeming flaw in his logic, is that persons who voted in 2009, would have already been resident for at least 3 years hence if still legally here, they would at least meet the 7 year requirement. Knowing this I then have to wonder if the plan is not to interpret breaks in residency as a reset. If someone who has lived here for a 5 years and goes off island for a few days, immigration has suggested it constitutes a residency break for CARICOM nationals. On return they are now considered to have resided here for 0 years (reset). Strangely they argue non CARICOM residents can leave for no more than 6 months, within a year, without a reset occurring. Commonsense does not tell them that at minimum the 6 months should apply to commonwealth citizens. Telling is the fact that laws like our income tax act define residency as being here for at least 6 months, in a year
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tenman

Watch out for this trick!

#1 skyewill » 2013-03-30 07:56

I believe the people have had enough UPP. They made much to many mistakes or made on purpose decision that damage the economy more than they had to and it seem that they don't care about people and they really cannot manage the country, 8 years of failure. They will list the investors they bought but those investors pay Slave wages. $280 EC per week minus taxes that's $107 US per week. A single mother with 2 children and the usual absent fathers = Murder. If anyone introduce a new party anytime after now, they would be doing the people an injustice HERE IS WHY: We would not have enough time to really see them for who they are. We would get what we got in 2004 where out of desperation the ALP lost. It is not that UPP won but ALP lost. I believe any group could have won in 2004, but I do not believe that any group cannot win in 2014. It will be either UPP or The New ABLP with a new leader and leaders do matter as you can clearly see. Register, Vote and support who you believe have your best interest. Simple.
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skyewill

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Mr. Colin Sampson

 Mr. Colin Sampson is a Journalist and the host of "The Colin Sampson Show" on Caribantigua TV 

 

 

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