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From the Supervisor of Elections – Vol II No 1: The Cross

Friday, November 20, 2020

By: Supervisor of Elections

Office of the AG

Electoral Office

 
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HIGHLIGHTS

From 2011, in all of the elections we have had, we have seen [9] petitions from dissatisfied losers
...eight of them named the Supervisor of Elections as a respondent thereby highlighting the role of that Officer in the conduct of elections
That is why [the Supervisor of Elections] has taken on the role of public education in the way that he has
The petition of Constituency of St Christopher 1 brings into focus the concept of a perfectly executed ballot and how much variation is allowed
...the Court has determined, and the Simmonds v Robiero case of 1980 reinforced this, perfection in a vote is not important

From the Supervisor of Elections
Vol II No 1: The Cross

The scenario that is unfolding in the United States of America is, unfortunately, very familiar to us. From 2011, in all of the elections we have had, we have seen petitions from dissatisfied losers; and the High Court has been asked to intervene.

There have been 9 challenges. Mark Brantley, Robelto Hector, Marcella Liburd, Konris Maynard, Steve Wrensford, Kenny Douglas, Leon Natta, Terrence Drew and Ian Liburd all brought challenges. Of these, only that of Mark Brantley was successful and resulted in the forced voiding of a seat. The other 8 petitions started but were withdrawn. Sadly, eight of them named the Supervisor of Elections as a respondent thereby highlighting the role of that Officer in the conduct of elections. That is why I have taken on the role of public education in the way that I have.

The petition of Constituency of St Christopher 1 brings into focus the concept of a perfectly executed ballot and how much variation is allowed. To begin with, the law requires that the ballot must be marked with a [just one] “cross”, perfectly placed in the space provided and made in pencil. Anything outside of this requires interpretation by the Counting Officer. The Counting Officer is the Returning Officer who can be assisted by a [just one] Presiding Officer who is identified by the Returning Officer. Further, the voter must vote by placing his mark within the space provided opposite the name and symbol of the candidate for whom he or she intends to vote.

The Returning Officer must reject all ballot papers which have not been marked for any candidate; on which votes have been given for more candidates than there are seats to be filled and upon which there is any writing or mark by which the voter could be identified, but no ballot paper shall be rejected on account of any writing, number or mark placed thereon by any presiding officer.

Any vote that is subject to interpretation will either be accepted or rejected. In deciding to reject a vote, the counting officer must seek to discern the intention of the voter and must determine whether the mark (or marks) can in any way identify the voter and destroy the secrecy of the vote.

The availability of 98 rejected ballots in Constituency #1 resulted in much public scrutiny. The petitioner became satisfied that he couldn’t substantiate his claim that most of the rejected ballots should not have been rejected and that if not rejected, would have been in his favour. We will never know for sure, as the withdrawal leaves the results as it is.

In every election that I have worked in and or supervised, there have been imperfect votes. But the Court has determined, and the Simmonds v Robiero case of 1980 reinforced this, perfection in a vote is not important.

For the avoidance of doubt, mark your ballot properly because every vote should count. That way you ensure that each person gets one vote in the right place, ensuring fairness to all.

It is the principal mission of the Office of the Attorney General to provide legal advice and services to and on behalf of The Crown, and to conduct and respond to all matters of litigation for and against The Crown or any Ministry or Agency of the Government.

Importantly, its mandate includes the extensive oversight of the legislative agenda of the Government.

The Office of the Attorney General also provides administrative support for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and superintends all matters relating to the Electoral Office.

Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs

The Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs ensures that the rule of law is facilitated and supported by the various mechanisms by which citizens can have equal access to the justice system and by which they can be afforded the protection of the law. It also takes responsibility for ensuring that the statutes are updated and modernized to keep pace with an evolving society.

Quick and convenient access to important and noteworthy matters relevant to entities under the Office of the Attorney General and departments within the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs.

Hon. Mr. Vincent Byron
Attorney General

Ms. Diana Francis
Permanent Secretary

(Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs)

The Office of the Attorney General

The Office of the Attorney General is chiefly responsible for providing legal counsel and advice to the Executive Branch of the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis. The functioning of the Office is rooted in the Constitution and is further detailed by the provisions of the Attorney General’s Act Cap 3.02 of the laws of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.

One of the more prolific manifestations of the advisory functions of the Office of the Attorney General is its contribution to the legislative agenda of the government. As such, the responsibility of preparation of all legislation: from conceptualization to the presentation of Bills and the crafting of Regulations falls within the purview of the office.

Get In Touch

Government Headquarters,
Church Street, Basseterre, St. Kitts

+1(869) 467-1013

attorneygeneral@gov.kn

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