Statement by Acting Prime Minister, the Hon. Shawn Richards, On Continuous Operations at Electoral Office

Fellow Citizens, Good Day!

It has come to my attention that disaffected members of the Opposition Labour Party are planning to carry out a protest at the Electoral Office on Central Street tomorrow, Friday 24 May, in an attempt to disrupt the work of that Office and undermine the confidence that our people have regained in the democratic process since the shenanigans carried on by the Labour Party during the last General Elections. There has been a lot work that has done by the Supervisor of Elections, Registration Officers and the Staff at the Electoral Office, to ensure that the system is sound and that citizens qualified to vote are registered. This process takes place every day and is ongoing.

Mr Elvin Bailey, the Supervisor, has reported that between January and March, some 514 persons were registered, a 270% increase over the 191 persons registered at the same time last year. For April, another 142 persons were enrolled. That is 656 persons for the year or 383 more persons than during the same period last year. There have also been some 174 transfers recorded since January.

In his Quarterly Report issued on the 26th April 2019, Mr. Elvin Bailey, the Supervisor of Elections, stated that in January, the printing of the National ID cards was suspended due to technical difficulties which by the end of March had not been resolved. This has been explained to those who have attended the Office to register, by staff there and the Supervisor of Elections himself has issued a number of press releases to the media, such as the Democrat, the Labour Spokesman and the Nevis Observer, as well as, he has made regular appearances on radio shows to inform the public of the work of the Electoral Office.

We should not be distracted by the antics of Labour Party activists.

Mr. Elvin Bailey, the Supervisor of Elections and his staff, continue to serve the public. The public should know that Mr Jason Hamilton, the former Attorney General, has been nominated by the Labour Party to sit on the Electoral Commission to oversee the process. As recently as 20th April, Mr. Hamilton attended a meeting of the Commission when the work being done was reviewed. In January of this year, Senator Nigel Carty and Mr. Cedric Liburd met with the Supervisor of Elections and had wide ranging discussions with the Supervisor and a number of their concerns were addressed. As recently as the last week in April, the Supervisor met with the Leader of the Opposition, Hon Dr. Denzil Douglas, Member for No 6, and Hon Marcella Liburd, Member for No 2, and these matters were discussed.

New printing machines are required to print the National ID cards and these new print machines need a new computer software to be developed to be properly configured. This is being done by the international computer firm, Fujitsu, the same firm that had installed the existing computer equipment some twelve years ago, in 2007, under the Douglas Administration.

But while this correction has to be done, citizens should know and understand that the law is that you can only vote if you are on the Register of Voters. Once you are on the Voters Register at any election, you need to have a Government issued ID, like a Passport, or Social Security Card, or a Driver’s License, or the National ID Card, to prove your identity and vote. Once that is done, you cannot be denied your right to vote.

You must not allow anyone make you be alarmed. It is not mandatory that you have the National ID card. The Electoral Office is open, and any citizen can attend to be registered to vote. They can attend to transfer their name. The Voter Registration system at the Electoral Office is up and running. You will not be able to get a National ID card at this time, but you will be informed when you must return to do so.

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