Roseau/Basseterre, November 11th 2018 – While the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica, Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit has vowed to defend the right of Dominicans who live overseas to vote in elections in their country, the Prime Minister in St. Kitts and Nevis, Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris, is soon to go to parliament in Basseterre to disenfranchise Kittitians and Nevisians living outside the federation.
“And let me tell you something. As long as I am prime minister of this country and from what some people are telling me, it will be for a very long time to come, we shall defend your right under the constitution of Dominica, to vote in Dominica’s election,” the prime minister told a gathering of visiting Dominicans.
Dr. Harris on March 28, 2018, tabled for a first reading, an amendment to The National Assembly Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2018, which seeks to amend Section 37A, by replacing the expression “ordinarily resident on the registration date,” with the words “ordinarily resident for at least six months before the registration date.”
Defending the right to vote of Dominicans living overseas, prime minister Skerrit said: “We will defend your right because it is a right and there is no institution in this country that has any legal or constitutional authority to remove your name on the voters list unless you are a dead person in Dominica because voting is too much of an important, fundamental right. People die to vote, people shed blood to vote and we want to go back to the days when only land owners could vote? No way!” said Skerritt.
Media houses quote the Dominica leader as saying: “We making progress and we have to be progressive in our thinking and we cannot go back to old days. Those who want to go back to the old days will stay where they are and we’ll continue to move forward.”
Highly critical of the move by PM Harris, the Deputy Political Leader of the opposition St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party, Hon. Marcella Liburd accused him of trying to disenfranchise nationals who are on the Register of Voters, but who live overseas.
“Our current law says a person can have more than one residence. There are a significant number of persons who are Kittitians and Nevisians who live in New York and elsewhere, but also have homes here in St. Kitts and Nevis, where they also pay their taxes. They come home regularly. They do not rent their homes because when they come home, they want to ensure they just go to their homes without a hassle,” said Liburd.
She noted that nationals residing overseas also contribute to the economic and social development of St. Kitts and Nevis.
She pointed out that these are the very same nationals who also contribute to the economic and social development of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“These are persons with rights as citizens. Registering as a voter is based on residence. There is the theory of no taxation without representation holds true. The right to register to vote is not solely of citizenship, it is also based on residence where persons live and pay taxes. You then have a right to say how your taxes should be spent,” said Liburd, also the Parliamentary Representative for St. Christopher 2 (Central Basseterre).