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Minister Harris Leads Debate on Amendments to the National Assembly Elections (Amendment) Bill

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, October 15, 2020 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – The Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris-led Team Unity Administration took another meaningful step towards electoral reform today, Thursday, October 15, when it moved the second reading of the National Assembly Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2020, in the National Assembly.

The National Assembly Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2020, is a Bill to provide for the length of stay that would clarify various non-national residents to vote in the Federation.

Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, who is the mover of the Bill, said this piece of legislation seeks to introduce some elements of electoral reform in St. Kitts and Nevis, particularly as it relates to the matter of who can vote and the criteria for determining one’s eligibility or qualification for voting.

“The Bill before us seeks to amend the National Assembly Elections Act Cap 2.01, as to establish new qualifications for voting by a Commonwealth citizen, not being a citizen of St. Christopher and Nevis, of 18 years and upward,” the honourable prime minister said.

Clause 4 of the Bill amends the principal Act Cap 2.01 at section 37 by (a) establishing two categories of Commonwealth Citizens. Those persons from a Commonwealth Caribbean country and those not from a Commonwealth Caribbean country, and (b) by establishing two residency periods. Twelve (12) month period for those of the Caribbean and citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis and a three (3) year residency period prior to registration as a voter for non-Caribbean Commonwealth Citizens.

Prime Minister Harris added that the Bill will also foster greater kinship between St. Kitts and Nevis and Caribbean countries within the Commonwealth.

“The concepts of national treatments – non-differential treatment – between our citizens and those from member states with which we hold that treaty obligation or obligation by law to participate in a common space such as the CARICOM Single Market and Economy, those will observe similar requirements of law as those citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis; that is they are given national treatment,” the prime minister said.

Moreover, Dr. Harris said the Bill also clarifies the question of voters registering to vote where they live.

“In relation to when there is a relocation from one constituency to another inside the country, the Bill seeks to have such individuals re-register in the new constituency within a 6-month period. Under existing legislation, for example, there was no need for that to happen,” Prime Minister Harris said.

The National Assembly Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2020, had its first reading on September 3, 2020.

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