The United Progressive Party (UPP) is demanding an explanation from the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC) for the delayed publication of the June Voters’ Register.
The Party is also calling for more public education ahead of the general elections, which, according to Prime Minister Gaston Browne, will be called early.
By law, the Electoral Register is required to be published on June 30; however, up to Monday, July 11, it had not been released.
The Party notes that ABEC has given no explanation for this delay, and, therefore, it is demanding answers in the public’s interest.
Sources tell REAL News the delay is not the fault of ABEC but of the Ministry of Finance.
They allege that the vendors who supply the Government Printery with paper and ink are owed significant amounts, and the Browne Administration’s failure to pay these businesses has caused them to halt delivery of supplies to the Printery.
With election fever in the air, the UPP is understandably concerned. The timely publication of the Voters Register is required to facilitate not only the Party’s preparation for an election, but the work of the Commission, interest groups and citizens.
If general elections are called before the publication of the December 31 list, the UPP notes, then the June list, with minor adjustments, will become the final Register for Elections.
Therefore, the Party says that an accurate list, published on time, goes a long way in advancing the electoral process, since the late publication of the Register reduces the time for claims and objections.
Meanwhile, the UPP welcomes ABEC’s decision to allow persons who have lost their registration receipts to collect their cards by showing any government-issued ID.
However, it is calling on ABEC to continue alerting those who have completed registered but have not yet picked up their voter identification cards.
While the publication of uncollected cards on ABEC’s website was a positive one, the Party complains that the online list has not been updated since October 2021.
According to Senator Damani Tabor, the UPP’s Public Relations Officer, “For the election to be successful and democratic, voters must understand their rights and responsibilities and must be sufficiently knowledgeable to participate meaningfully in the voting process.”
Therefore, the Party is urging ABEC to ramp up its voter-education drive and include the location of polling stations in the various districts.