Residents concerned that names of the dead are still on Elections Register; Goodwin says ABEC not doing a thorough job

Since the release of the Register for Elections last Friday, January 13, residents have been expressing concern that the names of deceased persons are still appearing on the list.

To Bruce Goodwin, a former chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC), it appears that the Commission is not doing a thorough enough job to avoid such occurrences.

He notes that there is an official registry of births and deaths from which information on deceased persons can be obtained and verified.

In most cases, sources say, ABEC depends on the family to request that a deceased person’s name to be removed from the list, and will provide some proof of their relative’s death.

Scrutineers, too, might submit a hymn sheet, or any other document confirming the person’s death, so that ABEC can remove the name from the voters list.

However, the Commission will not remove a name without concrete proof that the person has died, the source says.

And while it is established that ABEC staff should obtain copies of death certificates from the registry, one worker claims the process can be time-consuming and alleges that the courthouse staff can be uncooperative.  Therefore, that route is not always taken.

Meanwhile, Goodwin says that ABEC’s employees appear to be falling asleep on the job.

The former ABEC chairman charges that persons are not being held accountable for their actions and, in some instances, are rewarded for their incompetence.

Weighing in on the public’s dissatisfaction, Goodwin says there are certain issues that bring the electoral process into disrepute and pave the way for legal challenges to the results and to the system.

Meanwhile, others are complaining that the names of persons who no longer live in some constituencies are still listed as being resident.  

However, such situations will remain until applications for transfers to their new constituencies are made by those voters.