Proposed electoral changes will need Parliament’s approval, Symister says, and Court may have to determine countdown

Newly appointed Supervisor of Elections Ian Hughes has expressed
his preference for having ballots counted at the respective polling
stations – instead of all the boxes in a polling district being moved to
a central location for counting. 

Over the decades, some election-watchers have expressed a
preference for this process, since they feared that, during
transportation, ballot boxes could be switched or otherwise
tampered with on the way to the central station. 
Attorney Leon Chaku Symister, the United Progressive Party (UPP)
spokesman on legal matters, recalls that the idea of on-site counting
was proffered several years ago; but, at the time, it was opposed by
both major political parties.

To bring it into effect now, he says, changes would have to be made
to the governing legislation, and these would require the blessing of
both Houses of Parliament. 

In a recent interview, Hughes also spoke to the issue of electronic
voting. This alternative has actually been tested by the Free and Fair
Election League, which, for years now, has been advocating for
voting by this means. 
Symister says that bringing the country’s electoral process into the
modern era should be welcomed by voters – once the integrity of
the process is maintained.
Meanwhile, as campaigning continues in St. Mary’s South, there
remain 53 days in which the by-election can be called, the UPP
spokesman says. But, he observes, the government agencies appear
to be using a different formula for calculation.

He says the UPP is counting down the constitutional time frame of
120 days from June 8 – the day the Speaker of the House received
Kelvin “Shugy” Simon’s resignation letter.
However, he understands that the Government is using a counting
system that excludes weekends and public holidays.

Accordingly, Symister says, clarification on the count is needed,
since different people – and even the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral
Commission (ABEC) – are using different formulas for determining
the date. 
This clarification should come from the Supervisor of Elections, he

Meanwhile, Symister is sounding a warning: If the Supervisor of
Elections plans to exclude holidays and weekends from the count
–which the Constitution does not stipulate – then the Court will have
to be asked to do the calculation.
In the meantime, the UPP spokesman says he is confident that,
whenever the by-election is called, Simon will be victorious –
regaining the seat that he originally won, by 199 votes, in the
January 18 General Election.