Parliamentarian-elect Hon. Mark Brantley has exposed what he refers to as a “rent-a-vote” scheme orchestrated By the incumbent Nevis Reformation Party to pad the Nevis Island Administration voters list in its favor. During a live broadcast of his radio talk show “On the Mark” on Wednesday Brantley, Deputy Leader of the Concerned Citizens Movement, revealed the names of persons he claimed lived in St. Kitts, voted in the recent general election and have now transferred their registrations to vote as residents of Nevis. “I want to speak to a very unsettling development in our electoral process. Many would have heard myself and Alexis Jeffers say that we had been alerted to the fact that the Nevis Reformation Party had sought to engage certain people from St. Kitts to transfer their votes over to Nevis in what I have called a rent-a-vote scheme that they are living in St. Kitts but transferred to Nevis having voted and participated in the January 25th general elections in St. Kitts where they live,” he said. Brantley decried the alleged infraction as another attempt By political parties to corrupt the electoral system. “It is a nefarious and completely illegal enterprise. I am tired of trying to continually say to people in authority and who should be protecting the sanctity of our electoral process that they ought not to corrupt it. I know that this is another attempt By the NRP to pad the list to create a Nevis for them.” NRP won 3 of the 5 seats in the July, 2006 NIA elections. Brantley accused the NRP of targeting him By padding the list in Nevis 9 in an effort to win the federal seat. Brantley and CCM leader Hon. Vance Amory won two of the three federal seats in Nevis in the recent general elections. NRP’s Hon. Patrice Nisbett won the party’s sole federal seat and has been appointed Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs in the federal parliament. He said although he has been aware of the scheme for some time, he wanted to wait until he “had the information” regarding the names of the ‘illegal’ registrants to share with the public. Brantley rattled off approximately 40 names and asked the public to call in and identify whether those persons were known to reside in Nevis. The registrants’ addresses were listed as various areas in St. Kitts including Bird Rock, St. Johnston Village, Saddlers, Irishtown, Cayon, Newtown and St. Peters. According to Brantley, the voters lists showed these persons claimed to be living in different parts of Nevis, especially Cox Village, Prospects, Cherry Gardens and Brown Hill. A number of persons called in to say that most of the persons whose names were called did not live in Nevis however a few persons claimed that several had indeed relocated from St. Kitts. One female whose name was amongst the registrants called in spewing profanity and declared that she would be voting in Nevis for the local elections and no one could stop her. In seeking the public’s assistance to determine the facts in the matter, Brantley said, “In so much as the people in authority are bent and corrupt in the electoral system all of us have to become police men and women.” He warned would-be offenders not to engage in electoral fraud. “To the people out there who are being encouraged By people in authority to break the law, the penalty is 5 years in prison or $30000 in fines or both. I am asking you to be sensible because we will not sit back idly and allow our democracy to be corrupted in this fashion. Be sensible and do not put yourself in the dock for any politician because when you are calling them they say ‘I know you not.’ ” Brantley charged that election officials had to be involved in the alleged voter fraudulent activities and said he had written to the Supervisor of Elections, the Electoral Commission and Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas on the issue. He renewed his called for Election Supervisor Leroy Benjamin Sr. to resign. “As Supervisor he has been an abject failure. In this instance we see again the electoral process being brought into disrepute because people are concerned into the probity of individuals who are charged with administering the system. We have a fundamental problem in this country. We cannot practice deception and dishonesty in high places and then go around and pretend we nice; we put on our high heels and stockings and our jackets and ties and hard shoes and say ‘I’m the Honorable So-and-So’ when in fact we are encouraging criminality in our country.” Benjamin Sr. had previously weighed in on the issue of alleged attempts to commit inter-island voter fraud, telling The Observer that although it was nothing new, the electoral offices on both islands were hyper-vigilant as it related to the issue. “We have ways and means of finding out if persons are trying to commit voter fraud. I hope and trust that the politicians begin to search people out early especially people who are registering for the first time. We have been watching to see what people are doing. Some people are going to get themselves in trouble. We know the distance people will go to say they want to help their political party,” he said. He also explained that persons who legitimately moved from St. Kitts to Nevis after having voted in the January 25th general elections could have transferred registration to then vote in the NIA elections due 2011. To have been eligible to do so he explained, the persons would have had to transfer registration before the February 9th cut-off date. Brantley maintains that his party would pursue the matter even it meant “bringing private criminal charges against those fraudulent voters” since the constitution clearly states that persons must register to vote where they reside.
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