Election watchdog commends commission

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The Free and Fair Election League has commended the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission for a “well thought out” and “properly executed” election day plan.
That is in reference to the general elections held on March 21, which saw the return of the Antigua Barbuda Labour Party for a second term.
The League gave the commendations in its National Observer Team Report issued this week, following an earlier interim report.
The election watchdog reported that returning officers, poll clerks, candidate’s agents, police officers and other electoral workers ensured that the management of the process was “in keeping with the best electoral standards.”
The body added that the elections were free but noted that only one member of its seven-member observer team thought that they were free and fair.
Meanwhile, the league is recommending that the pre-election process be improved so that voters’ lists are published and can be scrutinised days in advance of an election.
The league also recommended that there be more stringent laws to govern campaign financing, a recommendation that it has oft repeated.
In the past, it has pointed to what it saw as the disproportionate use of campaign financing among political parties to affect the voters’ choice.
In its report, the league suggested that penalties for campaigning and canvassing on election day, be enforced and even strengthened.
This includes but is not limited to the enforcement of the rule regarding campaign material being visible within close proximity to polling stations on election day.
Meanwhile, the league said there’s a need to adjust the constituency boundaries for voter parity and to move to electronic voting. The League has made such recommendations in previous post-election reports. Currently, some constituencies have under 2,000 registered electors, while others have over 5, 000.

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