Based on recent statements by Prime Minister Gaston Browne, the January 18 General Election was stolen from the United Progressive Party (UPP), says Bruce Goodwin, former chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC).
On Saturday, April 15, Browne admitted to his radio station audience that voter padding took place in several constituencies in an effort to give his Antigua Labour Party (ALP) candidates an advantage at the polls.
In a number of constituencies, the vote count between the two major parties was quite narrow. In one instance, an ALP incumbent – Melford Nicholas – won the City East race by a mere six votes to emerge ahead of former UPP Political Leader Harold Lovell.
Browne acknowledged that electors from his constituency had been transferred to assist ALP candidates, even as he boasted that he had won more than 60 percent of the City West vote without campaigning.
If the public is to believe what the prime minister says, then those who are behind this nefarious and illegal act must be brought to justice, Goodwin says, adding that no one – not even the head of the government – is above the laws of this country.
The former ABEC chairman asserts that the January polls were conducted in an unfair manner, allowing one party to have an unfair advantage to secure the majority of seats.
He says that the election was predicated on corrupt and illegal practices, thus perverting the political will of the electorate.
Goodwin says that a person cannot move today and then go tomorrow to request a transfer.
In applying for said transfer to another constituency, a voter must first fill out a form, making a solemn claim that he or she has indeed moved; and this should be done only after he or she has lived in that new constituency for at least one month.
He notes, too, that it is not legal for a person to vote in the constituency in which he once lived, and it is a requirement, by law, that a transfer be effected. Then, there is a process that must be followed in order to finalize the transfer, he says.
Accordingly, persons who knowingly and willfully make false claims in order to vote in another constituency – being fully aware that they do not truly reside there – are guilty of an illegal act, he states, and those who encouraged or facilitated the act are also guilty of a corrupt practice, themselves.
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