Parliament attempts to tackle electoral reform

PHILIPSBURG–Electoral reform may not be the buzz word it was in past years, but the new Parliament has before it a proposal from Member of Parliament Sarah Wescot-Williams calling for the establishment of an ad hoc committee on electoral reform and terms of reference to outsource the exploration of the best avenues to eliminate ship-jumping, among other plagues.

Parliament has been “dilly-dallying with electoral reform” for years now, said first-time MP Wycliffe Smith (St. Maarten Christian Party (SMCP)) in the Central Committee meeting of Parliament on Wednesday. He welcomed the move of veteran MP Wescot-Williams, but believed “the voice of the people was missing” from the terms of reference.

“We should listen to the voice of the people. … The voter must be heard,” Smith said.

Wescot-Williams agreed that a hearing should be held. However, she pointed out that fielding that hearing should not be the entity tasked with putting together recommendations for Parliament on electoral reform. Parliament itself should conduct the hearing on its path to formalising its decision on reform, she said.

MPs Silveria Jacobs, Jurendy Doran, and Ardwell Irion (National Alliance (NA)) and Rolando Brison (United St. Maarten Party (US Party)) questioned various aspects related to the proposal, including the need to seek out what Government already has in the pipeline on the subject and the status of the Committee for Electoral Reform established by Government some two years ago. That Committee had turned out a report with proposals for changes to the law.

Discussion on the establishment of the ad hoc committee and the terms of reference will continue in another sitting of the legislature, prior to which Wescot-Williams will submit answers to questions posed by fellow MPs.

Source: The Daily Herald