The Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC) is assuring residents that, amid concern and speculation about the arrival of hundreds of African visitors into the country over the past few weeks, those visitors cannot participate in the upcoming January 18 general elections.
The Africans’ arrival has been shrouded in controversy, from confusion over their accommodations to the reluctance of some to speak with local media.
Some have even gone as far as suggesting that they were brought in to ‘pad’ the votes on behalf of the incumbent Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP).
Supervisor of Elections, Dame Lorna Simon, addressed those suggestions this week, insisting that the protocols in place will prevent anyone who is ineligible from voting.
“It’s impossible. The voting regulations mean the person has to appear in person. If you are a Caricom or global citizen then you would have to be in the country for seven years, live in the constituency for six months, you have to attend the screening at a registration unit where there are scrutineers appointed by both political parties.
“Then, at the point of registration, that’s an application, so your name is placed on a supplementary list because they have the whole month for registration. By the 15th of the following month your name is placed on the supplementary list, persons who are applying for transfers, persons who have died that remain there for 31 days, then you make it onto the next register which is published April, June, October and December.
“So, it is virtually impossible,” Simon said.
Speaking on Observer AM, Dame Lorna also addressed longstanding concerns about the possibility of the votes of deceased persons making their way onto ballots.
“Every April and October those persons’ names are removed but, at some point, you are going to have deceased persons on your list because we depend on the registration officers to get these sheets that are published on Facebook now.
“We also write to the Registrar of the High Court asking for a death certificate but you must recognise that there are some persons who die overseas so sometimes you may not have that information, but in any event whoever the person is they must bring their ID card and if you are deceased, the dead person cannot show up to the polling station.
“So, if you show up with my ID card, we don’t look alike, and here’s also the photo list because remember that was made legal after 2009. So, in addition to the regular list with just name and address, and so you have the photo list, so you match the ID card against the photo list,” she added. (DAILY OBSERVER)
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