PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Former Prime Minister and number 23 candidate on the National Alliance slate, William Marlin is calling on authorities to extend the period within which voters can pick up their voting cards from polling substations within the various districts.
He also urges authorities to, in extending the time, also seriously consider opening the polling substations after hours as well as on weekends to better accommodate persons who work late and those available only on the weekend.
Voters in some districts were given just five days, 5th of February to 9th of February (9am to 5pm), to collect their voting cards at locations in the various districts. Persons in the Philipsburg district were given even fewer days due to the closure of the Government Administration Building during the landfill fires, until an alternative location had been opened.
Marlin said the brief period allotted for voters to pick up their voting cards is too short and seems to be intended to frustrate the electorate. He was also critical that residents in some areas were being asked to travel to other districts to collect their voting cards.
“We seriously believe that the period to allow people to pick up their voting cards in the districts should be extended and the hours should also be extended to evening hours so that persons who work until 5pm can get at least some time to also pick up their voting card”, Marlin stated in a press release on Sunday.
“If the Census Office could have had special opening hours for the electorate to get their Identification Cards, then it is possible for this and other offices in the districts to open a bit longer to allow voters to pick up their voting cards after hours as well as on Saturdays and Sundays”.
Marlin said he understood that voting cards not collected by 9th of February, will be distributed by the Post Office and that persons will have the opportunity to go to the Census Office 8 days before election to request a duplicate voting card. He said however, that some persons no longer live at their registered addresses since the passage of Hurricane Irma and waiting until 8 days before the election, further limits persons from obtaining their voting cards to execute their constitutional right to vote in the election.
Marlin said many persons are already frustrated and accommodating them more effectively prior to the election would enable more persons to get their voting cards in their hands before February 26, and ensure a greater turnout of voters. Some persons would not want to wait until Election Day to go to a polling station to get their cards. “They should be accommodated before,” he insisted.