18 November, 2009
“I am an Anguillian. General elections are around the corner. I am not on the Voters’ List. How do I get registered to be able to vote?” I am sorry, the answer is that it is now too late. The final preliminary list of voters before the next general elections is being prepared right now. No more names can be added to it.
Section 14 of the Elections Act provides that, not later than the 72nd day of every quarter, the Electoral Registration Officer shall prepare and publish a Preliminary List of voters for every Electoral District. The 72 day of this fourth quarter in 2009 will be 11 December 2009. These Preliminary Lists for each Electoral District constitute the register of voters. So, if the Chief Minister calls elections in February 2010, the register of voters will be the list prepared in the quarter October–December 2009 and duly published. Persons who may have applied to be added in December 2009 or in January and February 2010 will not be eligible to vote.
Regulation 27 provides that after the enumeration year 2008 ended, a person who was qualified to be on the list but who was not registered for the particular Electoral District, might have appeared in person at the Central Electoral Office and submitted an application in Form 9 to be registered. Similar applications could have been made to correct errors in the list. The Regulation gives the Electoral Registration Officer the power to make inquiries to determine whether the applicant is qualified. Every political party in
Anguilla, knowing that elections were due by March 2010, would have been busy registering supporters all during the year 2009.
Note that the Regulation requires that the applicant must have appeared in person before the Electoral Registration Officer and submitted their application to be added to the list. No politician or their campaign assistants was permitted to fill out the forms, have the applicant in St Maarten or
sign the form, obtain a photocopy of the applicant’s passport, and bring the forms in to the Central Electoral Office and register them. The person applying to be put on the list of voters had to come in personally, allow the Electoral Registration Officer to ask questions and satisfy herself that the person appearing before her, and signing the form before her, was the same person as the person in the passport. This procedure of personal appearance is, no doubt, meant to make it difficult, if not impossible, for electoral fraud to occur in this continuous registration procedure. St Thomas
When the Electoral Registration Officer was satisfied that the person was qualified to be registered as a voter, she gave the applicant a certificate of provisional registration in Form 12. The name, address, and occupation of the applicant was then entered on the Quarterly List of Voters for the relevant Electoral District. From those quarterly lists, the preliminary list is now being prepared.
Section 16 of the Act is an important section in connection with these time-lines. The section provides a procedure to be followed, if time for anything needs to be extended, or if there was any error or irregularity in matter of form that needs to be validated. The Governor in Council is empowered to make a Regulation extending the time or validating the irregularity. However, the Regulation does not take effect until it is approved by a resolution of the House of Assembly.