Electoral Reform Will Address Issues Including Returning Overseas Voters, Says AG Byron

Basseterre, St. Kitts, December 04, 2015 (SKNIS): In this week’s edition of “Working for You”, Attorney General, Honourable Vincent Byron, stated that electoral and constitutional reform will be determined by the people in keeping with a democratic society.

One such issue that poses the question of reform is the right of persons to return to their home country to vote at the expense of the State.

“Those who fly in to vote, under our current Constitution, are entitled to do so,” said the attorney general. “The Constitution provides for someone who is said to be domiciled in St. Kitts and Nevis to determine that they can choose to come and vote. So, at this point in time that is what adheres.”

He further explained that there had been a gap in the law that allowed persons who lived overseas to register to vote in an area where they wanted to vote and not where they should.

“In 2009 there was an amendment to this that determined if a person is born in St. Kitts, and last lived in a particular location or constituency, and went overseas and you had not registered to vote before you left, you can’t come back and register anywhere. They would have to come back and register where they last lived,” he stated.

Another question that the attorney general pointed out was a fundamental issue in relation to the electoral process where a person registers to vote is not always where they are resident.

“The general feeling is that if I lived in Greenlands and I registered to vote in Greenlands and I now move to Frigate Bay, that I can go back to vote in Greenlands,” he stated. “Somehow it was acceptable. The law does not, as it stands right now, demand that you do something about it. But, if someone objects to you doing that, you have to move your name. There are other situations where many of them have not lived in Greenlands. They may have lived in an outlying constituency and they come and register in Basseterre.”

Attorney General Byron stated that the electoral reform process in this matter would address questions of “whether we would entertain an overseas vote or not; whether we would have an overseas constituency or how we manage an overseas voter. They may be on the voters list but they must be resident for ‘X’ number of months before a poll. Maybe we have to establish a fix date for a poll. This is a particular authority that the prime minister has. These are the matters the people will determine.”

The attorney general stated that in order for democracy to be restored, the Constitution should be revisited.

“[We have to] revisit the Constitution and have for us what is a proper democratic system where citizens do not feel as if they are being short-changed. This is something that this administration will take very seriously. It is a promise we have made, and we have begun to put these things in place.”

Attorney General Byron stated that through town hall meetings and discussions not only with residents in St. Kitts and Nevis, but those in the diaspora, persons will be able to contribute to the reformation process.

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