The Barbuda People’s Movement (BPM) says it is proceeding with legal action over the alleged ‘padding’ of the sister isle’s voter list in favour of the ruling Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) ahead of the recent general elections.
Led by Member of Parliament for the sister isle, Trevor Walker, the BPM claimed in early January that a review of Barbuda’s preliminary list revealed 100 voters had been added over the past five years – a development that was concerning to the party, especially considering what it deemed to be a delay in the publication of the final register for electors for the January 18 poll.
“[During] the last week, I think the last five days before the election, there were between 27 and 35 persons that were put on our list….in [total], they managed to get – at least those types of persons – between, I’d say, 50 and 55 persons on the list, and those are voters that would just vote for the Labour Party,” Walker claimed during an appearance on Observer AM yesterday.
He explained too that supporters of the ABLP were rather vocal about their unscrupulous intentions. “As a matter of fact, I heard – somebody sent me a clip of the Prime Minister on his radio programme – and one person called in and said he transferred his vote to Barbuda to support [my opponent] Knacyntar Nedd.
“‘But Mr Prime Minister, I don’t know about the Barbudans, because – and I’m quoting him now – ‘it’s going to take a divine intervention to deal with the Barbudans when it comes to how they vote’”, Walker added.
In a letter to Supervisor of Elections, Dame Lorna Simon, prior to the general elections, Walker expressed concern that the January 13 publication of the list did not allow sufficient time for it to be scrutinised.
And the MP alleged after that letter that the BPM received no response from the Registration Officer for the constituency, in regard to its objections to the addition of certain names on the list. “Not even to say whether the objections had even been processed,” he said.
Walker had pledged, on behalf of the BPM, to mount a legal challenge to address those discrepancies, and despite his success in the general elections, he says all systems are go in that regard.
“As a matter of fact, we have started the process and we have written to the Supervisor of Elections and also the Registration Officer here [in Barbuda] to actually put them on notice, get some information and clarity as to what the situation was.
“To date, we have not received any response from them, so it’s not something that we’re taking lightly, because had we not protested that situation, we believe and we know it would have been worse prior to the election in terms of more persons getting onto the list,” Walker said.
Walker, the incumbent MP for Barbuda, defeated his opponent, the ABLP’s Knacyntar Nedd-Charles, by 624 votes compared to 456.
ABLP Chairman Chet Greene denied any impropriety by his party, telling Observer yesterday the Labour Party “is not in the business of voter padding”.
“Anyone who was added to the voter list must have been eligible under the law. Likewise, anyone who was not allowed the opportunity to register must have been denied by virtue of the same law,” Greene added.