Even as the Cabinet is implying there is voter padding in St. Peter and pledging to launch an investigation into the issue, Algernon “Serpent” Watts, the United Progressive Party (UPP) Candidate for St. George, is making a similar claim against the Antigua Labour Party (ALP).
ALP scrutineers reportedly have complained about a marked increase in registration in St. Peter. But Watts says the same thing is being attempted in St. George, and one such case was picked up by the chairman of his Branch.
He says there are two other incidents on which he and his team are keeping an eye in order to prevent any hanky-panky from happening.
Watts says he has already spoken to these persons who were seeking to perpetrate voter fraud, warning them of the penalties they face if convicted.
The UPP Candidate says this development is being taken very seriously, and he will not relent in ensuring that elections in St. George – and the country, on a whole – are free and fair.
Watts notes that the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC) has a responsibility to monitor registrations.
Accordingly, he agrees with St. Peter MP Asot Michael, who has said the Cabinet has no authority to launch any investigation into matters related to the electoral process.
Based on the Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, any complaint with regard to voter registration and issues related to the voting process falls under the sole purview of the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC).
Candidates or residents who wish to challenge the registration of any person, in any constituency, can do so under the provisions laid out in the Act, under the process of “Claims and Objections.”
Reportedly, a similar situation is happening in Freetown and in other constituencies across the island.
Meanwhile, Watts also agrees with Michael that the housing project in Paynters could account for the rise in voter registration in St. Peter. However, he does not doubt that other factors could be accounting for the increase, as well.