CODRINGTON, Barbuda, Friday March 16, 2018 – A High Court judge has sided with the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC) in its decision to make Barbudans vote in Antigua in next Wednesday’s polls, and not on the sister isle as is usually the case in general elections.
Justice Clare Henry handed down her ruling yesterday, in the matter in which leader of the Barbuda People’s Movement (BPM) Trevor Walker was seeking an injunction to block ABEC’s move and have a declaration made that Barbudans should vote in their own constituency.
ABEC had announced that polling for the Barbuda constituency in the March 21 general elections would be done in Antigua, based on “prevailing circumstances” resulting from Hurricane Irma which ravaged Antigua’s sister isle last September. However, Walker, through his attorney Charlesworth Tabor, argued that there were no special circumstances that would prevent Barbudans from voting where they reside and ABEC therefore had no basis in law to stop Barbudans from casting their ballots in their constituency.
However, Justice Henry ruled that “there was no claim properly before the court to grant an injunction, therefore the request has failed”.
Speaking after the ruling, ABEC chairman Nathaniel ‘Paddy’ James assured that the Commission “has the best interest of Barbudans at heart”.
He noted that discussions would continue with officials from the National Office of Disaster Services (NODS) to discuss transporting Barbudans to Antigua.
“We are very glad for the outcome and this decision is in the interest of the people of Barbuda. We will be working with NODS to bring persons from Barbuda over here to exercise their franchise,” he said, adding that he was confident that “everything will work out”.
Supervisor of Elections, Lorna Simon shared similar sentiments.
“We had always hoped that the decision would go in favour of ABEC. We have selected the T.N Kirnon Primary School where four polling stations will be provided for Barbudans to exercise their franchise and we are working with NODS for their advice as to how soon Barbudans will be able to begin coming over—probably as early as Monday, whether it be by ferry or aircraft,” she said.
“I just want to urge Barbudans to use the opportunity that will be given to them so that they will be able to cast their ballots.”