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Open letter to Prime Minister Dr. Gonsalves

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06.MAR.09

Re: Amendment to Representation of the People Act…

Sir,

I wish to draw your attention to an anomaly in the above captioned Act which needs to be corrected and legislated at once.

With regard to the requirements for a voter to be qualified to vote in a constituency, the Act states at Qualification of Voters Part One 5/3: Where a person has been registered as a voter for a constituency ceases to reside in that constituency, he shall not on that account cease to be qualified to be registered as a voter for that constituency until he has become qualified to be registered for a another constituency.{{more}}

4/ In reckoning the period of residence in a constituency of a voter for purpose of subsection (1), the period between the qualifying date and the polling day in that constituency shall not be reckoned as a period of residence.

Further, The Constitution of SVG at Chap 3 Part 1 Parliament 25/1/b reads: Subject to the provision of section 26 of this Constitution a person shall not be qualified to be elected as a Representative if, and shall not be so qualified unless, he – has resided in SVG for a period of twelve months immediately before the date of his nomination for election or is domiciled or resides in SVG at that date…

Clearly, the question of residency is important to the process. Yet the framers do not specifically state this requirement with regard to candidates but do so with the voter. Why? Is it that given the common practice at the time of persons living in the geographical area to present themselves they assumed that to be understood? Did they see the absurdity of a person not being able to vote/represent himself in Parliament as having the audacity to ask others to vote for and have him represent them? This absurdity that has been taken advantage of and abused must be closed – it must be codified.

The New Democratic Party (NDP) in its Constitution supports this. It states at Article 13: Members of the Party registered to vote in a constituency in which they live or work may organize themselves into Party Groups on the basis of geographical location within each constituency. (If you have no connection to constituency you cannot be a member.)

Recommendations:

1/ All persons wishing to present themselves must be required to establish residency. Same as required in Constitution at Chap.3 Pt1 25/1/b

2/Established familial connection to the geographic area, that is, have been born in the area but have moved out yet maintained or has purchased property in the area at least one year prior to nomination date. Must be required to establish a residence (owner or renter) within nine months of taking office.

3/Renters (without familial connection) of less than two years should not qualify.

Note that the world’s most famous carpetbagger Hillary Clinton had to establish residency in New York by purchasing a home in Westchester County before she could present herself as a candidate.

Sir, I thank you for your time and hope that you will give prompt attention to this matter. You may contact me for further discussion by phone (I will not tape you) or in person at your convenience.

If in a constituency of 7,000 voters a party cannot find a resident to take up its mantle, it ought not to field any candidate.

Yours sincerely,
Frank E. da Silva

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