Over 200 can vote
Just over 200 more Commonwealth citizens will have an opportunity to place their ‘X’ for the first time in a Barbados general election tomorrow.
That’s because the Electoral and Boundaries Commission (EBC) worked feverishly last weekend to register as many applicants as possible, after an emergency court action last week forced the Government agency to step up to the plate.
“Unfortunately, not all Commonwealth citizens who applied were able to be added as their residency status was not verified in time to meet the deadline for the publication of the final list,” attorney Michelle Russell told the MIDWEEK NATION yesterday.
“Nonetheless, over 200 persons who had not been able to vote in the previous elections will now finally be able to exercise their legal right and cast their vote [tomorrow]. This in my mind represents significant progress,” said Russell, a Jamaican who has lived in Barbados since she was a teenager.
She was one of the claimants who filed a second class action suit that was heard by Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson in day-long emergency hearing last Friday at the Supreme Court. After that hearing, the 14 who formed that class action suit were informed the EBC would have completed their registration as electors.
Russell revealed that their attorney in last week’s action, Queen’s Counsel Larry Smith, played a part in the work done over the weekend.
“He was instrumental in this process and he remained in continued contact over the weekend and assisted greatly in communicating with his client in respect of the names which were verified and should be added to the list,” she said.
The attorney noted that in spite of the legal action taken over the course of the lawsuits, the EBC had played a significant role in making sure the other applicants were registered.
“I saw an article over the weekend which suggested that last Friday’s court hearing signified a loss for the EBC. I disagree. It was through the cooperation of Mr Smith and his client during the hearing that we were able to reach an amicable settlement which resulted in 13 of the 14 claimants being verified in time to be added to the final voters’ list. Further, through their continued assistance, over 200 more qualifying Commonwealth citizens have been added to the voters list since Friday’s hearing,” Russell added.
The fact that another 200 will get the chance to vote represents a victory for Commonwealth citizens, most of whom had applied to be registered as electors since early in January, but had been in limbo through the slow initial work of the EBC, and the subsequent legal wrangles in court.
A little over a week ago, the situation had reached a head before the Caribbean Court of Justice had warned Chief Electoral Officer, Angela Taylor, she was flirting with contempt charges, and ordered the EBC to register claimants Professor Eddy Ventose of St Lucia, Russell and Sharon Edgecombe Miller of Montserrat as electors so they could vote in the May 24 election.
Ventose, Russell and Edgecome Miller were registered, but then another 40 Commonwealth citizens were not, forcing the claimants back to the Chief Justice last week. (BA)