Crowds Lineup At St. Kitts’ Electoral Offices
Photo By Erasmus Williams
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
October 01, 2008 (CUOPM)
St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas has extended the deadline for persons whose names are on the current voters list to confirm their registration.
“The period from 27th December 2007 to 30th September 2008 that was designated as the Registration Period pursuant to the National Assembly Elections (Appointment of Registration Period) Order is hereby extended to the 4th October 2008,” a Statutory Rules and Orders signed on September 30th by Prime Minister Douglas stated.
Consequent on the signing of the Order, Supervisor of Elections and Chief Registration Officer, Mr. Leroy Benjamin issued a statement informing the public that confirmation of registered voters has been extended from Wednesday 1st October 2008 to Saturday 4th October 2008.
Over the past few days scores of persons have lined up outside the Electoral offices in St. Kitts and in Nevis in an effort to meet the September 30th 2008 deadline.
The Electoral Office in St. Kitts confirmed persons from 7:45 A.M. until 10:45 P.M. Tuesday 30th September and until 8:00 PM Monday 29th September. Normal working hours are from 8 A.M to 5 P.M.
An additional confirmation center was opened in the basement of the Treasury across from the Electoral Office in Basseterre to service the large numbers of persons who turned up to confirm their registration for the new Voters List.
Registration of new voters continues at both electoral offices, but the distribution of new National Identification Cards have been suspended to speed up the confirmation process.
The electoral reform process, which began two years ago, is expected to result in a new Voters List, a national identification card and the introduction of a photo id when registering for the first time.
In August 2006, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis presented a White Paper in the lawmaking body outlining the process for electoral reform and the preferred steps through which consultation with stakeholders and implementation of electoral reform will result in a legally reformed electoral system.
The White Paper noted that through proper consultation with all social groups, political parties, and the general public, the Government will ensure that these reforms guarantee that future elections in St. Kitts and Nevis continue to be free and fair and in keeping the democratic and constitutional rights, these reforms will not disenfranchise any voter as the reforms seek to introduce a modern and efficient electoral system.
Government had reviewed the report of the “˜Commonwealth Expert Team’ on the general elections of 2004, the Report of the “˜CARICOM Observers’ of the general elections of 2004, and the Report of the “˜Commonwealth Assessment Mission’ of 2005, and based on the commitment given in the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party 2000 Election manifesto, pursued the proposed reforms, leading to the modernisation of the electoral process.
Several committees were established and a comprehensive national consultation was put in motion.
The Electoral Reform Consultative Committee (ERCC) conducted national consultations with all stakeholders around St. Kitts and Nevis and with nationals residing in Anguilla, St. Maarten/St. Martin, the United States Virgin Islands, the British Virgin Islands, the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom about the proposed new electoral framework and sent its report directly to the National Advisory Electoral Reform and Boundaries Committee (NAERBC), which after extensive discussions sent its own report to the Parliamentary Constitutional & Electoral Reform and Boundaries Committee, which is a National Assembly Sub-Committee.
After considering the report from the Electoral Reform and Boundaries Committee, the Report was sent to the Attorney General’s Chamber for forwarding to a drafting expert in Barbados.
Since the passage of the National Assembly Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2007, which has had public scrutiny, several amendments have been made.
Confirmation exercises were also carried out at designated Confirmation Centers in Anguilla, St. Maarten, the British Virgin Islands, the United States Virgin Islands, the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom and around both St. Kitts and Nevis.