Lovell says ABEC’s failure to investigate vote-padding statements could cause loss of faith in ‘fair’ elections process

Harold Lovell, former political leader of the United Progressive Party (UPP), has joined the chorus of voices calling on the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC) to look seriously into Prime Minister Gaston Browne’s admissions of voter padding in the recent General Election.

ABEC is intended to be the vanguard of the political process, Lovell notes.  Hence, if its independence is brought into question, he says, many people will lose faith that fair elections can be held in this country.

If the Commission fails to act on the calls being made, it will bring the body into disrepute, Lovell says, adding that ABEC needs to pay closer attention to election-related issues.

Almost three weeks ago, Browne told his radio-station audience that voters had been transferred from his constituency, St. John’s City West, to give his Antigua Labour Party (ALP) colleagues an advantage in the elections.  

But while ABEC has put out a statement explaining the transfer process in great detail, it has not distanced itself from the prime minister’s statements directly.  It only said that, being concerned, it had discussed the matter at one of its meetings.

Former ABEC Chairman Bruce Goodwin has called on the Commission to investigate Browne’s claims, saying that a refusal to do so would call into question its independence, integrity and credibility.

The Free & Fair Elections League, meanwhile, has said that Browne’s claims call into question the “fairness” of the polls and whether the results truly reflected the will of the people.