Bring proper proposal to change ballot counting – Gov't to ABEC

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The government says the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC) must propose model legislation if it wants the ballots to be counted at the polling stations where they are cast in a election.
Under the current Representative of the People Act, the ballots are moved from the various polling divisions to a central counting place within each of the 17 constituencies.
Information minister Melford Nicholas addressed the topic in response to a question at Thursday’s post-Cabinet media briefing.
“When I think ABEC is fully apprised of what it wants to do, [it] will make the representation to Cabinet to ask for legislative change, and that discussion will take place. And if they have persuaded the Cabinet itself and the matter ends up in parliament, then we will have the discussion and then we will go from there,” Nicholas said.
The Commonwealth observers made the recommendation in their preliminary report following their scrutiny of the March 21 general election in Antigua and Barbuda.
It is a suggestion that ABEC wholeheartedly supports since the country is one of the last in Latin America still using central counting locations, a situation which ABEC believes is not in keeping with best democratic practices.
But Nicholas is countering that some people, himself included given his personal stake, would feel more comfortable with having ballots tallied centrally since this makes supervising the process easier.
St. Kitts and Nevis is reportedly the only other country in the region where ballots are centrally counted.

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