MORE ELECTORAL, CONSTITUTIONAL PROPOSALS PUBLISHED

anguillian
By anguillian December 5, 2016 11:09 Updated

 

 

The people of Anguilla have been provided with more proposals for electoral and constitutional reform by the Commission led by retired Eastern Caribbean Judge, Mr. Don Mitchell, CBE, QC.
The new information, published on the Anguilla Government’s website, comprises the following: additional details to the Draft Constitution, now regarded as a final document; the Draft New Elections Bill and the Draft new Electoral Boundaries Commission Bill.
The explanatory notes accompanying the Elections Bill and the Electoral Boundaries Commission Bill are as follows:

DRAFT NEW ELECTIONS BILL
EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

The constitutional amd Electoral Refom ommittee, acting upon its mandate given to it by the Executive Council of Anguilla in September 2015, has arrived at proposals for submission to Executive Council for the reform of the elections law of Anguilla. While many attempts were made to engage with members of the public, the opportunities offered were not taken up by many persons. We hope that the publication of these proposals will be seen as yet another opportunity for public engagement. Members of the Committee would welcome any invitation to engage in further public discussion on its proposals.

It is proposed that there will be a new Elections Act, the passage into law of which does not and will not depend on the coming into effect of the new Constitution. It is expected that the new law, as finally settled by the legal draftspersons in the Attorney-General’s Chambers, will be brought into effect as soon as it is approved by the House of Assembly, hopefully early in 2017. First, the Boundaries Commission will have to be established, and new boundaries put in place. The next general elections, presently scheduled for the year 2020, at the expiration of the present House of Assembly, will then be held under the new Elections Act. If the new Constitution has been brought into effect prior to 2020 some consequential amendments will need to be made to the new Elections Act, eg, to reflect that the new qualification to be on the Voters’ List is ‘ordinary residence’, and that ‘mere residence’ will no longer suffice.

The important new features proposed include the following ones.

1. Reorganise the Central Electoral Office (sections 3-16). The Central Electoral Office needs to be completely reorganised to make its performance more professional and clearly independent.

2. A new enumeration year (sections 19-25). It is proposed the new enumeration year will be the year 2017, and that a new enumeration year occur approximately every 10 years following the taking of the census. It is generally agreed that there is a need to 2 clean up the Voters List to remove any persons who may be wrongfully on the List. As it is practically impossible in the absence of death to remove a person from the Voters List even once they are on, even if they have moved away from Anguilla for many years, periodic enumerations will ensure the List is kept relevant.

3. Continuous registration (section 26). Thereafter, there will be continuing registration.

4. Applicants must appear in person (section 32). Once the enumeration process is over, wherever the Supervisor of Elections considers it necessary, he may require any applicant for registration on the Voters List to appear in person before him and to prove that he is qualified to be registered.

5. Appeals to the Judge (section 37). Objections to registration must be heard by a qualified person such as the Supervisor, who will ensure the law and the rules of natural justice are followed. Appeals will lie to the High Court Judge as is normal in our region. The Magistrate was given this duty many years ago when there was no judge assigned to Anguilla.

6. Voter registration cards (section 42). There is a need to speed up the process on polling day, and it is believed that identification cards will help this process.

7. Fixed date elections (section 43). It is generally agreed that the present process whereby the Chief Minister has the sole say in choosing the date for elections is wrong. Elections will be due on the first Monday after the fifth anniversary of the previous general election.

8. Advance polls (section 68). Arrangements will be made for election officers and members of essential services to vote a few days in advance of polling day.

9. Sale of liquor (section 84). Holders of hotel licences and restaurant licences will not be affected by the provision prohibiting sale of alcohol by persons holding Liquor Licences. This will return Anguilla to the previous situation where, as in other Leeward Islands, only rum shops and similar institutions were obliged to close on election day.

10. Removal of posters and billboards (section 87(5)). All election material must be removed by midnight of the day before polling day, or candidates will face severe penalties.

11. New district boundaries (section 98). An Electoral District Boundaries Commission will be established to work with the Statistics Department and the Surveys Department and such others as they determine useful to provide advice and to divide the island up into more or less equal constituencies. It is anticipated this exercise will occur every ten years.

12. Thirteen elected members instead of seven (section 99). We do not need to wait for a new Constitution to start increasing the size of the House of Assembly. This is essential if we are to have a proper debate on matters before the House. It is proposed there should be nine district representatives and four members at large. The House will be increased from seven to thirteen elected representatives once elections are held under the new Elections Act.

13. Campaign financing (section 105). Political parties must keep a strict account of all donations and contributions, whether of cash or in kind, and whether made to the party or directly to the candidates, and whether made before, during or after an election. The accounts must be audited and filed within six months after the general election, otherwise the party and its candidates will face stiff penalties.

 

DRAFT NEW ELECTORAL BOUNDARIES COMMISSION BILL
EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

In carrying out its mandate from Executive Council to review all previous proposals for electoral reform, and to produce proposals for reforming Anguilla’s law and procedure, the Constitutional and Electoral Reform Committee determined that it is necessary to set up an Electoral Boundaries Commission to review the electoral boundaries into which Anguilla is divided. In view of the proposal in the proposed new Constitution and in the proposed new Elections Act that Anguilla be divided into nine

(9) local electoral districts and four

(4) Islandwide electoral districts, it is particularly necessary that a Boundaries Commission be set up to carry out that task. The following is a summary of the proposals that are contained in the draft Electoral Boundaries Commission Bill which the Committee has drafted. The Committee urges all interested persons to read the draft Bill, and welcome any invitation to engage in further public discussions on the proposals.

1. The Committee has prepared a draft new Bill for a Boundaries Commission Act. The Bill is based on the Cayman Islands constitutional provision which appears to us to be adequate for our purposes.

2. It is a short Bill consisting of a mere three sections.

3. Section 1 is the short title and commencement.

4. Section 2 provides for the establishment of the Commission. The Governor appoints the Chairman (who must not be a member of the legislature or a public officer). The Chief Minister and the Leader of the opposition each recommend the remaining two members.

5. Section 2 also provides for the Commission, with the permission of the Governor, to confer powers and impose duties on any public officer. It is envisaged that by this provision the Commission may enlist the professional and expert advice of demographic and geographic experts in the public service such as the Statistics 2 Department and the Lands and Surveys Department in mapping out nine new sets of boundaries of district constituencies with approximately equal populations. Members of the public will also be invited to participate by sharing their views.

6. The final section 3 provides for the Commission to submit its report to the Governor and to the House of Assembly, and for the Chief Minister to propose to the House the adoption of the report. Once the House approves the report, the draft Elections Bill can then be completed by inserting into its First Schedule the new boundaries of the nine local electoral districts. The proposed new Elections Bill can then be submitted to the House of Assembly for passage into law. In that way, the next general election will be contested on the basis of nine local electoral districts and four Island-wide electoral districts.

anguillian
By anguillian December 5, 2016 11:09 Updated
  • Holly Webster

    4. Applicants must appear in person (section 32). Once the enumeration process is over, wherever the Supervisor of Elections considers it necessary, he may require any applicant for registration on the Voters List to appear in person before him and to prove that he is qualified to be registered.

    5. Appeals to the Judge (section 37). Objections to registration must be heard by a qualified person such as the Supervisor, who will ensure the law and the rules of natural justice are followed. Appeals will lie to the High Court Judge as is normal in our region. The Magistrate was given this duty many years ago when there was no judge assigned to Anguilla.

    I see the pastorophobic bigot is at it again! Yet at least this time the pastorophobe is contributing something he knows much about. Good on him!

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