What you need to know for Referendum Day

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The historic referendum to choose a final court of appeal has been causing intense debates among residents regarding the pros and cons of the two options available – the Caribbean Court of Justice and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
The CCJ, which was established in 2001, has two jurisdictions – original and appellate – but while most of the CARICOM countries are signatories to the original jurisdiction, only Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana have signed on to the appellate jurisdiction. Antigua and Barbuda requires a two-thirds majority vote to allow for the necessary changes to be made to the constitution if the people want to move from the Privy Council which was formed in 1833 and is based in London.
The road to tomorrow’s vote, started with an US$2 million budget and an education campaign since 2016 when stopped after just a few months, and only resumed later this year.
So, what do I need to know about the exercise? Observer media asked Public Relations Officer of the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC), Elisa Graham, to provide a gentle reminder to our readers.
The same rules that apply on Election Day should be adhered to on Referendum Day, i.e: There should be no sort of programming on radio or television or other media, promoting the CCJ or the London-based Privy Council. This also includes paraphernalia and clothing.
The question that will appear on the ballot paper reads: Do you approve of the Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda (Amendment Bill 2018) which is a bill for an act to alter the Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda to terminate Her Majesty in council (also known as the Privy Council) as the final Court of Appeal for Antigua and Barbuda and to replace it with the Caribbean Court of Justice (also known as the CCJ)
On Referendum Day
The Polls will open at 6 a.m. and close at 6 p.m.
Upon entering the polling station, the voter will be asked to present his/her voter identification card to the presiding officer.
The card will be checked and handed to the poll clerks who will check the name on the card against the register of electors.
The voter should see the ballot paper stamped with the registration mark before it is handed to him or her.
The voter will then proceed to the voting area to put an X or a tick to the right of the word YES to show approval for the bill or an X or a tick to the right of the word NO to show disapproval of the bill.
The voter will then fold the paper to show the official mark on the back, leave the voting area and return to the presiding officer where he/she will be asked to dip his or her right index finger into the electoral ink that is provided.
The voter will then put the ballot paper in the box and leave the polling station.
Additional things to bear in mind:
If the voter accidently makes a mistake or spoils the ballot paper, he or she can return it to the presiding officer, who once satisfied, will issue another ballot paper.
If the voter places an identifiable mark on the ballot paper, the ballot will not be valid or counted.
If a voter removes a ballot paper from the polling station or puts any other paper other than the specified ballot paper in the box, he or she would have committed an offence and would be liable to penalties laid out in the law.

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