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Antigua: New question as voters get ready to cast ballot in referendum

By CMC

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(CMC) – When voters in this Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country go to the polls on November 6 to decide whether or not to replace the London-based Privy Council as the island’s final court, they will have an updated question to answer on the issue.

Earlier this month, the Antigua and Barbuda Election Commission (ABEC) issued a statement indicating that voters would be asked “if they approved the Constitutional Referendum Amendment Bill 2018 for an act to alter the Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda”.

ut the question has been criticised by some sections of the population that have indicated it makes no reference to the Privy Council or the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), which voters are being asked to accept as a replacement of the London-based final court.

Speaking on a radio programme here, the Supervisor of Elections, Lorna Simon said the Commission had taken note of the concerns raised that the question did not mention the CCJ or the Privy Council.

“That has since been amended (so) we will have to redo the specimen ballot. I am guided by the Ministry of Legal Affairs…and so the sample ballot that was not released would have been as it is in the act.

‘So based on concerns raised, the amended question would be “Do you approve the Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda Amendment Bill 2018, which is a bill for an act to alter the Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda to terminate her Majesty In Council also known as Privy Council as the final court of appeal for Antigua and Barbuda and to replace it with the Caribbean Court of Justice also known as the CCJ”.

Meanwhile, ABEC has issued a statement calling on community organisations to nominate persons for the role of “Referendum Monitors,” on November 6.

ABEC said that the monitors are in keeping with the Constitutional Referendum Regulations Statutory Instrument, which states that a “community organisation shall, no later than 14 days prior to the referendum, submit in writing to the Supervisor of Elections, the name of three referendum monitors for each polling station in the constituency”.

The Commission said that the name of one referendum monitor should be named for the appointment as the Chief Referendum Monitor to oversee the operation of the conduct of the referendum in the constituency.

It said that where no names of Referendum Monitors have been submitted by a community organisation of a constituency at the end of the date for submission of names, the Supervisor shall consult with the Christian Council and the Labour Unions to assist in the selection of monitors for the referendum

ABEC said that a total of 171 polling stations will be used for the process, and the surnames for each station and locations are still being finalised.

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