Attorney General accused of “stiffling democracy” over the continued closure of electoral offices in Nevis and St Kitts

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Attorney General accused of “stiffling democracy” over the continued closure of electoral offices in Nevis and St Kitts
Supervisor of Elections, Mr Elvin Bailey
Supervisor of Elections, Mr Elvin Bailey

(PRESS RELEASE) – Attorney General Sen. the Hon Vincent Byron Jr has been accused of stiffling democracy over the closure of the Electoral Offices in Nevis and St Kitts during partial curfew days.

“We had four partial curfew days this week. Banks were open, supermarkets were open, restaurants were open, rum shops were open and Chinese stores were open. Interestingly, the electoral offices on St. Kitts and on Nevis were kept closed,” noted Nevisian Carleen Pemberton.

“Why do the government choose to keep the electoral offices close when registration is a continuous process and if a new registrant were to participate in the elections, he or she must register two months before the election date? Why Mr. Minister AG Byron, Why are you stifling democracy? Open the electoral office and allow for the continuous registration process to go on,” said Pemberton in a FaceBook posting.

“Have the electoral offices in Basseterre and Charlestown been registering new voters since March 27, when this State of Emergency began?,” asked Kittitian community activist, Larry Vaughan in a FaceBook posting.

Don Grant: “Of course they are …under shade of the lockdown…things happening.”

“Very, very good question. I’m waiting for the answer,” asked Lavington Browne.

Corruption of the electoral machinery ahead of the general elections which must be called by mid-August this year, has been a major concern of the opposition St Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP), which a few months ago mounted a protest outside the Electoral Office in Basseterre against several irregularities.

The Supervisor of Elections is Mr Elvin Bailey, a cousin of the Hon Vance Amory, Senior Minister and Minister of Labour and Social Security in the Timothy Harris coalition cabinet.

Plans by the Prime Minister Dr the Hon Timothy Harris last year to remove the names of nationals of St Kitts and Nevis who reside overseas, were scuttled after widespread opposition at home and abroad.

A proposed amendment to the National Assembly Elections Act in September 2019 which would have introduced a six month residency requirement for persons to be eligible to be registered as a voter was removed from the Order Paper after it was introduced and read a first time at a previous sitting.

The SKNLP is also challenging attempts by the Office of the Supervisor of Elections to remove hundreds of names from the voters list via objection hearings.

The last general elections was held on February 16, 2015. The first sitting of the St Kitts and Nevis National Assembly on May 14, 2015. The lawmaking body automatically dissolves on May 14, 2020, if not earlier. The general elections must be held by August 14, 2020.

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