Election discrepancies discussed in Parliament 

POSTED: 04/10/15 12:04 PM

St. Maarten–Seven months later the parliament in a form of central committee discussed what some members called discrepancies during the August 29th elections of last year. Present to answer the questions were the Main Voting Bureau, Civil Registry and the Prime Minister Marcel Gumbs who is also responsible for General Affairs. Chairman of the Main Voting Bureau Jason Rogers in his presentation stated that it is a pity that the term discrepancies were used in the agenda point as the term should be issues. As a result he opted to refer to the so called discrepancies as issues. Members of Parliament Leona Marlin, Tamara Leonard and Cornelius de Weever called the meeting to hear from the persons responsible for organizing the last elections.

A number of questions were asked and answered during the 4 hour meeting. One of the highlighted discrepancies was at the polling station at the prison. Rogers noted that the letter of the law was upheld during election day and explained that the issue at the prison was that proper identification was not available for certain prisoners. Another question asked concerned the usage of foreign identification for voting purposes. The voting entity says the law does mention a St Maarten ID but in a subsection state that an identification card is possible. The law makes that distinction.

The Chairman of the Main Voting Bureau Jason Rogers also addressed the many other concerns of the Members of Parliament; the electoral ordinance is used to enforce all existing rules of the electoral council. “If changes are made to the ordinance, the government has to make them and not the council itself”. The interpretation of the laws is done at the discretion of the council and objections are possible.

As far as the number of invalid votes is concerned, the council did find it unusual that 105 invalid votes were discovered and after a hearing was called to validate the election results all the invalid votes were re-examined. Electronic voting is possible for St. Maarten however the system picked should be one that is fraud proof says the chairman of the voting bureau. Rogers took Curacao as an example who switched from electronic voting to regular hand voting. He went on to state that confidence in the system is another factor that the islands population should be ready for. Financing of the electronics involved with the system is another important factor as it will be a significant investment. The members thanked the delegation for the answers and looked forward to further dialogue.

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