PHILIPSBURG–Voters in St. Maarten will no longer go to the polls on January 8. The Council of Ministers decided on Friday to postpone the snap parliamentary election and voters will now cast their ballots on February 26, 2018.
The postponement of the election means that Nomination Day will no longer be held today, Monday. Nomination Day is now set for January 5 and the new Parliament will be sworn in on April 2.
The postponement of the election has addressed many of the Central Voting Bureau’s legal concerns. Bureau Chairman Jason Rogers told The Daily Herald last night that the Bureau is now comfortable to organise a free and transparent parliamentary election.
Rogers said the changing of the election date means that the legal requirements for an election will be met in accordance with the electoral ordinance.
As for the Bureau’s practical concerns, Rogers said new voting booths and ballot bins have been ordered and are expected to arrive in the country in six weeks.
Rogers said also that he has been informed that assistance from within the Kingdom will be provided as it relates to public order and safety. “I have been informed today that in situations such as these, we will have assistance … to help in the provision of public order. I have been informed that there should be not be any issues.”
He stressed that for the election, the Central Voting Bureau works with the Civil Registry Department, which is responsible for the factual execution of the election. He said a plan of approach had been drafted by the Department of Civil Registry to address the practical concerns that had existed before.
Voting cards will be sent out to the electorate and provisions will be made via satellite stations for persons who do not receive their cards to collect them in time for the election. Taking into consideration the plan of approach by the Civil Registry Department coupled with the additional time “it is now possible to organise the election and carry it out fairly and responsibly,” Rogers noted.
In a press release issued late last night the Council of Ministers confirmed that it had decided that due to practical considerations the date to dissolve Parliament will be adjusted. Government confirmed that the dissolution of Parliament will now take place on April 2, the new nomination day date has been adjusted to January 5, and elections will now take place on February 26. Following the election, the newly elected Parliament will be sworn in on April 2.
The Council of Ministers said the Landsbesluit no. LB 17/0619 dated November 12, 2017, confirming this decision is available in the National Gazette.