The Government is looking to end the absentee voting during Federation general elections in a bill that had its first reading in Parliament last week.

The Team Unity Administration tabled an amendment to the National Assembly Elections Act to enforce a six month residency requirement for a national to be eligible to vote in general elections, a move that will see overseas nationals losing their voting privileges.

The bill seeks to amend Section 37A, replacing the expression “ordinarily resident on the registration date” with the words “ordinarily resident for at least six months before the registration date.”

The bill also seeks to delete section 37B from the act. Section 37B reads, “a citizen of Saint Christopher and Nevis of eighteen years or upwards whose name appears in the register of voters for a constituency and who is ordinarily resident overseas and has a domicile in Saint Christopher and Nevis in accordance with section 37B.”

The also seeks to extend the residency requirement from Commonwealth Citizens from one year to three continuous years.

Another proposed amendment to the National Assembly Elections Act is a change in the First Schedule which gives Commonwealth citizens from only Caribbean countries or islands, the right to be registered and vote in an election.

Labour MP Konris Maynard on Wednesday speaking on the issue disagreed with the move calling it a “disenfranchisement of citizens”. He said, “This is all in an effort to disenfranchise voters who are already legally registered to vote and others who are presently eligible to vote in St. Kitts and Nevis.”

Maynard also slammed the government for no public consultation before bringing the bill to the parliament

“Given the type of behaviour that we have seen from this Government, it is clear that the authorities will visit supporters of the government when they are at home and visit the known homes of opposition supporters when they are not home,” said Maynard, a first term parliamentarian.

He claimed that the “unpopularity” of the government was the motive behind the move

“The government has realised that as a result of its growing unpopularity, they now have to resort to electioneering in the Electoral Office to disenfranchise voters. That is what is before the National Assembly,” said Maynard.

The first term MP indicated that the Labour Party support the right of every nation to a vote.

“We in the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party stand firm that our nationals must be given that right to exercise their franchise and it should not be infringed. We will do all that we can and in our power and legal remit and work tirelessly to ensure that the rights of citizens, born, grew up, lived here and a native of St. Kitts and Nevis that the right to vote remains intact.”

The overseas voter has always been a topic of discussion during election campaigns with thousands of voters flown in on Election Day, some by parties contesting the election to get that added advantage.

Efforts were made by this publication to contact the Attorney General and Leader of Government Business in the National Assembly for comment but were unsuccessful.

Last week however, Federation Attorney General Vincent Byron Jr. indicated, there were 34000 persons living in St. Kitts and Nevis, who were 18 and over and were able to vote while 9,000 individuals overseas are also eligible to vote.

“The last register that we produced, there were approximately 43,000 people. That is the number of voters in St. Kitts and Nevis. There are some 9,000 people who do not reside here in St. Kitts and Nevis but are registered to vote; who have arrived to come and vote,” Byron.

He explained that 20 percent of the voter population do not reside in the Federation and the matter ought to be reviewed. “We have to go back to the drawing board and determine if someone can fly in on a Sunday night, vote on a Monday and fly out on the Monday night. Some 9,000, 20 percent, we need to have a national dialogue on that issue.”

The Government is looking to end the absentee voting during Federation general elections in a bill that had its first reading in Parliament last week.

The Team Unity Administration tabled an amendment to the National Assembly Elections Act to enforce a six month residency requirement for a national to be eligible to vote in general elections, a move that will see overseas nationals losing their voting privileges.

The bill seeks to amend Section 37A, replacing the expression “ordinarily resident on the registration date” with the words “ordinarily resident for at least six months before the registration date.”

The bill also seeks to delete section 37B from the act. Section 37B reads, “a citizen of Saint Christopher and Nevis of eighteen years or upwards whose name appears in the register of voters for a constituency and who is ordinarily resident overseas and has a domicile in Saint Christopher and Nevis in accordance with section 37B.”

The also seeks to extend the residency requirement from Commonwealth Citizens from one year to three continuous years.

Another proposed amendment to the National Assembly Elections Act is a change in the First Schedule which gives Commonwealth citizens from only Caribbean countries or islands, the right to be registered and vote in an election.

Labour MP Konris Maynard on Wednesday speaking on the issue disagreed with the move calling it a “disenfranchisement of citizens”. He said, “This is all in an effort to disenfranchise voters who are already legally registered to vote and others who are presently eligible to vote in St. Kitts and Nevis.”

Maynard also slammed the government for no public consultation before bringing the bill to the parliament

“Given the type of behaviour that we have seen from this Government, it is clear that the authorities will visit supporters of the government when they are at home and visit the known homes of opposition supporters when they are not home,” said Maynard, a first term parliamentarian.

He claimed that the “unpopularity” of the government was the motive behind the move

“The government has realised that as a result of its growing unpopularity, they now have to resort to electioneering in the Electoral Office to disenfranchise voters. That is what is before the National Assembly,” said Maynard.

The first term MP indicated that the Labour Party support the right of every nation to a vote.

“We in the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party stand firm that our nationals must be given that right to exercise their franchise and it should not be infringed. We will do all that we can and in our power and legal remit and work tirelessly to ensure that the rights of citizens, born, grew up, lived here and a native of St. Kitts and Nevis that the right to vote remains intact.”

The overseas voter has always been a topic of discussion during election campaigns with thousands of voters flown in on Election Day, some by parties contesting the election to get that added advantage.

Efforts were made by this publication to contact the Attorney General and Leader of Government Business in the National Assembly for comment but were unsuccessful.

Last week however, Federation Attorney General Vincent Byron Jr. indicated, there were 34000 persons living in St. Kitts and Nevis, who were 18 and over and were able to vote while 9,000 individuals overseas are also eligible to vote.

“The last register that we produced, there were approximately 43,000 people. That is the number of voters in St. Kitts and Nevis. There are some 9,000 people who do not reside here in St. Kitts and Nevis but are registered to vote; who have arrived to come and vote,” Byron.

He explained that 20 percent of the voter population do not reside in the Federation and the matter ought to be reviewed. “We have to go back to the drawing board and determine if someone can fly in on a Sunday night, vote on a Monday and fly out on the Monday night. Some 9,000, 20 percent, we need to have a national dialogue on that issue.”