Dame Lorna reflects on Supervisor of Elections tenure as she prepares to retire

Supervisor of Elections, Dame Lorna Simon
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By Robert A. Emmanuel

[email protected]

Dame Lorna Simon has been one of the nation’s top elections officers since 2002 and this year will see her end her decades of service to the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC).

Simon, who began her tenure in the civil service in 1969, received the award of Dame Commander, The Most Distinguished Order of the Nation (DCN), in 2020 for her contributions to public service.

Speaking at ABEC’s post-election press conference this week, Dame Lorna spoke about her biggest challenges and rewards while in the post.

“The most challenging would have been in 2009 when some of our polling stations opened late as a result of our printing the register of elections at a late hour.

“One of the things that contributed to that … was there were boundary changes, so when you print the register some persons’ names did not appear, so you had to be reprinting, and then at the last moment, a printer broke down,” she said.

She added that the high turnout during the 2009 elections showed that no candidate had been unfairly disadvantaged by the issue.

Dame Lorna also noted that her time as an election observer in Papua New Guinea in 2017 provided her the most rewarding moment.

She noted how the country collected statistical data on voters by gender which she adopted in Antigua and Barbuda, adding age to the data compiled—a vital detail that she said members of election observation missions were grateful to receive.

Meanwhile, the government’s choice for her replacement as Supervisor of Elections is not yet known. However, Dame Lorna said she hoped her suggestion would be taken onboard.

“It would be good to give up the reins at my age as I am no longer a spring chicken and I have said who I would want to assume this position, but Parliament has the final say,” she said, indicating that Ian Hughes was her choice.

Ian Hughes, Assistant to the Supervisor of Elections, has been in the role since 2003 and has represented Antigua and Barbuda overseas, leading a Caricom election observation mission in the Bahamas in 2021.

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