Chairman of the Central Voting Bureau Jason Rogers
~ Says Chairman Central Voting Bureau ~
PHILIPSBURG–Having a parliamentary election on November 25, 2019, can be considered an infringement on the Electoral Ordinance and the Constitution, says Chairman of the Central Voting Bureau Jason Rogers in a letter to Minister of General Affairs Leona Marlin-Romeo and Chairman of Parliament William Marlin of Wednesday, September 25, 2019.
Rogers arrives at this conclusion because the Central Voting Bureau, “being a guardian of the entire democratic/electoral process, will be prevented and/or unable to properly execute its duties in an honourable manner and as per the oath taken by all members at their appointment,” the Voting Bureau Chairman stated, adding that his letter is not to imply that no election should be held.
National Decree #2019/1482 of Monday, September 23, 2019, which was published in the National Gazette of September 24, 2019, announced that the current Parliament of St. Maarten will be dissolved effective December 23, 2019, and a new election to elect Members of Parliament will take place on November 25, 2019. As per the decree, nomination of candidates will take place next week Wednesday, October 2.
Although the Central Voting Bureau has not yet been formally informed, the Bureau said it deemed it necessary to “proactively” outline its concerns pertaining to the date of the election.
The Central Voting Bureau is most of all concerned about the legal timeframes it has to take into consideration, as well as the rights of possible new political parties that may want to run in the election.
As per Article 22, Paragraph Four of the Electoral Ordinance, three weeks prior to nomination day, the Chairman of the Central Voting Bureau needs to announce the possibility for candidates to be nominated. “I am unable to meet this requirement as the three weeks prior to nomination day lie in the past,” Rogers says in his letter.
Only eligible voters are allowed to cast their votes in an election. The voters’ registry is closed 30 days prior to nomination day. Given that nomination day is on October 2, the process of closing the voters’ registry has not been followed, according to the Central Voting Bureau.
Also, the decree indicating the colours that can be used for the lists of political parties participating in an election must be issued 14 days prior to the date of nomination. As there are only nine days between the date of the National Decree #2019/1482 and nomination day, the requirement as per Article 36, Paragraph Two of the Electoral Ordinance cannot be met.
As new and de-registered political parties need to be registered at least six weeks prior to nomination day it would not be possible for certain new and existing parties to participate in the November 25, 2019 parliamentary election, the Central Voting Bureau said.
With the recent resignation of one member and one extraordinary member of the Central Voting Bureau, the Bureau would be shorthanded during the November election, as under the Electoral Ordinance the appointment of members and extraordinary members should take place at least 30 days prior to nomination day, Rogers stated in outlining another point of concern pertaining to the November 2019 election.