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From the Supervisor of Elections – Vol II No 15: Has Electoral Reform begun?

Monday, April 5, 2021

By: Supervisor of Elections

Office of the AG

Electoral Office

 
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HIGHLIGHTS

On the 27th October, 2020, His Excellency the Governor General assented to a change in the Electoral Laws in regards to the Amendment No 13 of 2020 .
Nationals from Caricom countries are allowed 12 months after residency to register to vote whereas Commonwealth Nationals are allowed 3 years.
The other change was the imposition of a 6-month period into the definition of ordinary residence for a voter before his/her reigtration becomes affected.
This latter amendment called for legislative amendment to clarify residency of the voter to where an individual is authorized to cast his or her vote.
Combined, these adjustments may help strategize towards one person having one vote in the right place, and give fairness to all.

From the Supervisor of Elections
Vol II Issue No 15: Has Electoral Reform begun?

On the 27th October, 2020, His Excellency the Governor General assented to a change in the Electoral Laws. The changes, contained in Amendment No 13 of 2020, distinguished between CARICOM and COMMONWEALTH nationals, and clarified ordinary resident a bit more.

Previously, all Commonwealth nationals, both Caricom and other, qualified to register as voters after residence for twelve months. The change kept the twelve month qualifying criterion for Caricom but increased it to three years for all other Commonwealth citizens.

This change means that as of that date, the rights of 2.38 billion persons of the 42 commonwealth countries in the world would have been amended. They now have to wait for 3 years to register to vote. The remaining almost 18 million of the full member CARICOM territories would retain their rights. In real terms, Anglo-african, Canadian and British nationals (including British Dependent Territories), Australia, New Zealand and Bermuda must wait for 3 years, while nationals of the OECS, Barbados, Guyana, Belize, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago are unaffected. In a way, that answers the question that was before the Court some time ago about student rights.

The other change was the imposition of a 6-month period into the definition of ordinary residence. It says in part, “where a person who is ordinarily resident in Saint Christopher and Nevis is registered as a voter for a constituency and he or she has ceased to reside in that constituency then he or she shall continue to be registered as a voter for that constituency, for a period not exceeding six months…”

Interpreted, a voter is free to move around the country for up to a 6-month period before his/her registration becomes affected. This has implications for how objections based on incorrect address are processed. It may also have implications for first time registrants.

This latter amendment draws from the Report of the Electoral Reform Consultative Committee, at item 4.7.2.2, (page 57), that called for legislative amendment to clarify residency in order to avoid the misapplication of the concept of the qualifying address when determining where an individual is authorized to cast his or vote. “This will eliminate the practice of voters shifting their registration from one electoral district to another solely to affect the outcome of an election”. It continued: “the amendment should also … address the issue of the determination of qualifying address of citizens living overseas as well as citizens born overseas who intend to register.”

The 6-month issue can also shed light on section 39(5) of the Act. That section allows for dual ordinary residence; and gives the right to the registrant to elect the place he/she desires to be registered.

Combined, these adjustments may help strategize towards one person having one vote in the right place, and give 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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