Kittitians Registering in Nevis to Vote? By Sheena Brooks

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Allegations are rife that Kittitians are crossing the waters to register to vote in Nevis for the local Nevis Island Assembly elections due in 2011.The Observer was reliably informed that boatloads of persons who reside in St. Kitts and never resided on neighboring Nevis travelled to the sister island for such purpose earlier this week. Upon contacting Concerned Citizen’s Movement candidate and parliamentarian-elect Mark Brantley on the rumors, he said he had also been informed of the alleged activity occurring on Tuesday. He said the necessary action would be taken to address the matter. “Yes it has started. We heard that several Kittitians were in Nevis today registering but we shall use every avenue legally available to us to protect our democracy including bringing private criminal charges against those fraudulent voters,” he told this media house in an exclusive interview. The CCM will contest the NIA elections against the incumbent Nevis Reformation Party. According to the Federation’s electoral laws, persons are required to register to vote in the area they reside and any falsifying of registration documents in that regard constitutes a criminal offence. The Observer spoke with Supervisor of Elections Leroy Benjamin Sr. who said persons trying to circumvent the electoral laws in this manner is “not a new story”. He said the staff of the electoral offices was on the lookout for voter fraud for the upcoming Nevis local election and offenders would be prosecuted. “Don’t feel that we do not scrutinize these things. 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.” The election situation in the Federation is such that persons registered to vote on Nevis in the federal elections held every five years are automatically qualified to vote in the island’s local election to determine which party would control the Nevis Island Assembly. There are 3 federal seats allotted to Nevis however there are 5 seats contested in the local elections and persons registered to vote in any of the 8 federal seats in St. Kitts are not eligible to vote in the Nevis local elections. When asked if someone who was registered in St. Kitts and voted in the January 25th general elections could then vote in the Nevis local election in 2011, Benjamin Sr. said “we are keeping our eyes on that.” “This is one of the things we are going to be watching most. We know who is who. 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. Some people are going to try a lot of things but if they believe they could dodge the system and play smart I think there will be a lot more action.” According to the election official, persons registered in St. Kitts who voted in the January federal elections would only be eligible to vote in the NIA elections next year if their names had been transferred ahead of the February 9th deadline. Benjamin Sr. said that with the issuance of the National ID card, and election officers better trained, this would assist in eliminating the incidence of voter fraud.

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