Free and Fair Elections League calls for national re-registration of voters

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The group says national re-registration would help “cleanse” the electors’ register (Photo courtesy ifes.org)
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A group dedicated to strengthening the local electoral process has criticised the Electoral Commission’s (ABEC) U-turn on conducting a national re-registration of voters.

The Free and Fair Elections League issued a statement Sunday saying it was concerned that ABEC had instead decided to implement an identification card replacement programme.

The body is calling on ABEC to carry out a full re-registration “in order to ensure the integrity of the electoral process and the voters’ list in which citizens and in particular electors can have confidence”.

In May the government decided to forego its previously planned comprehensive re-registration of its voters’ list. Instead, beginning August 12, more than 40,000 voters across Antigua and Barbuda will begin the process of renewing their expired voter ID cards.

Supervisor of Elections, Ian Hughes, said the government no longer wanted to conduct full registration, citing higher costs and a lack of executive appetite for the process.

The Free and Fair Elections League said the expiration of 40,000 ID cards – which represents approximately two-thirds of registered voters – has “resulted in a tainted corrupted electors’ register and voters’ list which can only be remedied by a process of registration of voters”.

The group says national re-registration would help “cleanse” the register and list, and rectify concerns over apparent illegal transfers during the 2023 general election, the number of deceased persons on the list, and the granting of amnesties leading up to elections.

“The Commission should have been well aware of the expiration date of the voters’ cards in April 2024 and it is incumbent upon them to always be in a state of readiness for an election,” the statement said.

“Further, they should not be concerned about the price for the exercise. Free and fair elections are tenets of our democracy and should not be measured in dollars and cents.”

The League was founded in August 1991 and formally incorporated and registered as a ​non-profit and non-partisan​ organisation in 2009. It aims to strengthen democracy and promote best electoral management practices.

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