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By Carlena Knight

The Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC) is currently conducting a training exercise in Barbuda to fill the position of Registration Clerk at the Barbuda Registration Unit.

Representatives from ABEC to include the Senior Registration Officer Karen Manwarren, Human Resource and Training Officer Ian Hughes, and Public Relations Officer Elisa Graham are facilitating the week-long training course during which selected individuals will cover topics such as Matters of the Law, the standards of ABEC, personality profiling, and professionalism in the workplace.

This training follows the official re-opening of the Registration Unit on the sister isle, which had been relocated to the Central Unit on the Factory Road, in Antigua after Hurricane Irma devastated Barbuda in 2017.

During the 2018 general elections, that situation caused Barbudans, who had also been relocated to the mainland, to cast their votes in Antigua.

In explaining the rationale behind the training, Hughes indicated that the sessions are designed to prepare the attendees to eventually become registration clerks, once they successfully complete the exercise.

The participants have been engaged in a number of role play activities that will give them an idea of potentially real-life situations, which could occur in the voter registration process.

The group will be given an assessment, on Friday, to test their knowledge of the topics covered during the electoral process. The pass mark for the assessment is 85 percent and the successful persons or persons will then move on to the next level in the requirement process, which is an interview with the members of ABEC.

Chairman of ABEC Nathaniel ‘Paddy’ James spoke briefly on the opening of the unit and thanked a number of individuals for their effortless work in acquiring a new building.

“It is appropriate for me on behalf of the Electoral Commission to congratulate the supervisor of elections and her team for the hard work and seemingly sustained effort in securing a suitable building on the island to house the registration unit. It was a most challenging task undertaken by these staff members and for this we are most grateful,” he said.

“To get anything meaningful done on Barbuda takes an inordinate amount of time. Transportation by land or sea has been difficult. It was also difficult to move staff and equipment in a timely manner to set up and run the system that collects the data required to process applications for registration. This we have recently achieved due to the hard work of our staff and for this we are indeed thankful,” he added.

“It would be remiss of me if I were not to thank the Barbuda Local Government Council and the people of Barbuda, generally, for their patience during the absence of the registration unit on that island. It was quite inconvenient, we believe, to many Barbudans who are qualified and not being able to register on the island and who had to travel to Antigua at a high cost to do so. We assure them that this was unavoidable and that we are glad that we are able to bring that situation to an end.”

James also encouraged Barbudans to get registered once the registration unit is fully functional. He is reminding persons that only registered members of the public are allowed to vote in any election and with Barbuda having council elections, constitionally due in early 2021, and general elections in 2023, the stress the matter that registering is indeed imperative, the ABEC chairman said.

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