Basseterre, St. Kitts, May 23, 2019 (SKNIS): During an address to the nation on May 23, Acting Prime Minister, the Honourable Shawn Richards, has categorically stated that no one will be denied the right to vote once they are on the Register of Voters, noting that the machine to issue National IDs is down.
His remarks came as a result of the Opposition’s Labour Party’s plan to stage a protest at the Electoral Office on Central Street on Friday, May 24, “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.”
Acting Prime Minister Richards stated that a lot of work has been 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.”
Acting Prime Minister Richards said that the Supervisor of Elections, Elvin Bailey, 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.”
According to the quarterly report, issued on April 26, 2019, Mr. Bailey said that 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,” said Acting Prime Minister Richards. “We should not be distracted by the antics of Labour Party activists.”
The acting prime minister stated that Mr. Bailey and his staff will continue to serve the public.
He informed the public that 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,” he said. “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.”
The acting prime minister stated that new printing machines are required to print the National ID cards and will 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,” he said.
Acting Prime Minister Richards said while the new machines are approaching, “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,” he said.
“You must not allow anyone to make you to 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,” said the Acting Prime Minister.