By Theresa Gordon
The Free and Fair Election League is preparing to host yet another mock election exercise to test the pulse of voters in Antigua and Barbuda.
George Rick James, Secretary of the League, is also hoping to use the exercise to encourage local authorities to use electronic voting instead of casting ballots manually.
The simulation exercise will be conducted from February 8-10, 2018. A second one is also scheduled to be held before the general elections which are constitutionally due in 2019.
“The simulated elections are done electronically, and we have been sensitising the electorate to that way of voting, and it has proven very popular with the electorate at large. We are trying to persuade the Electoral Commission to move from the manual process to one of electronic,” Rick James said.
Rick James said the electronic ballots would include the names of each political party and the names of representatives and prospective candidates.
The electronic ballots will also allow for registered electors to cast a vote for campaign financing.
James said independent candidates wishing to be included in the mock exercise would be able to do so.
However, they will have to deposit $250 which will be refunded depending on the number of votes received.
“This was done in the last exercise, but no deposit was required. I believe the mock elections have now become a staple in the electoral culture in Antigua and Barbuda. It is regarded as one of the more reliable methods of testing the pulse of the people.”
Only registered voters will be able to cast a ballot. And while voting will be done by constituencies, the polling stations will be at strategic locations around the island, including supermarkets.