OAS Observers Call for House-to-House Voter Verification in St. Kitts & Nevis

From their observations of the poll to elect the five member Nevis Island Assembly, on Monday 11th July, 2011, the OAS team was able to identify a number of shortcomings, some of which could have been avoided, had their 2010 recommendations been acted on.

In its preliminary statement on last week’s election, the OAS indicated that the objective of its recommendations is to help strengthen the electoral process on the island and the federation generally. The team however said, “…the observers did not note any significant changes since the 2010 General Elections in Saint Kitts and Nevis, regarding the electoral system or its procedures, (thus) the Mission reiterates all recommendations from its previous report…”

Chief among its suggestions for a better voter registration system is a revamp of what now pertains, and as such “The Mission reiterates its 2010 recommendation to “conduct a house-to-house verification process before the next election and a claims and objections period in which the voters list is properly adjusted to reflect the current reality of voter numbers and residency.”

Moreover, in light of the recent controversy resulting from the weaknesses of the procedure of objections and claims, the Mission recommends a serious review of the notification timeframe and determination of mechanisms that guarantee equity and due process for both objectors and objectees regarding registration claims.

Similar to the issues observed by the OAS Electoral Observation Mission in 2010, the accuracy of the voter registration list was contested by various political actors, during last week’s local poll. Specifically, disputes arose regarding the residency of voters, the objections, claims and hearing procedures, and the public dissemination of the revised lists.

A final and more comprehensive report is soon to be submitted to the federal government and other stakeholders, according to an OAS official.

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