By Devonne Cornelius
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The date for the National Assembly Elections for St. Kitts and Nevis is yet to be announced but work by electoral officials and political party representatives continue.
The St. Kitts Nevis Labour Party, through its constitutionally appointed Scrutineer, Mr. Larry Vaughan, continues to examine and monitor the registration process daily at the Electoral Office which include the Certificates of Registration.
Mr. Vaughan told WINN that he has been accessing the Certificates of Registration for scrutiny since June 02, 2022, however, since early last week, Mr. Vaughan claims that the Supervisor of Elections Mr. Elvin Bailey instructed the staff at the Electoral Office to restrict his access to the book. Mr. Bailey has since denied those claims.
“Mr. Bailey has not received any complaints that I have tampered with, torn out any leaves of or in any way destroyed the Certificates of Registration. Mr. Bailey seems to be making up unfounded claims that would allow him to want to restrict access to the book. It is quite interesting that if books that are current, the leaves can be torn out of them, what happens to the books that are not current. Has he pasted them in with a special form of super glue that if someone was to tear them out, they would not get to do so?
To say that these books can be tampered with, and other books that I have requested were never tampered with, shows that Mr. Bailey has put a red herring into the discussion because at the end of the day, I have gone through six months of books and all were returned in excellent condition. Even books that were examined on the day that certificates were issued were returned in short order and in excellent condition and so Mr. Bailey speaking about tampering and destroying the books is a red herring because added to all of that, Mr. Bailey is saying that he cannot trust Scrutineers but the law allows for Scrutineers,” said Mr. Vaughan in an interview with WINN on Wednesday, July 13, 2022.
Mr. Vaughan opposes the notion that any Scrutineer would be able to tamper with or destroy the Certificates of Registration as the Scrutineer sits at a desk at the entrance of the Electoral Office. He said “every person entering and leaving the office passes the Scrutineer in plain view. I am reminded that the electoral office is quite a busy place with thousands of people, coming in and going out” but Mr. Bailey is convinced that the Scrutineer will tamper with the book in plain view.
Mr. Vaughan continued: “It delays the process by telling me that I should wait up to a week or more to see those certificates that have been issued so that if there are issues with them, it takes me more than a week to know it while I am there already. Yes, there was a time when there was no Scrutineer and so the information was up to six months behind. If I have brought it now to the point where I can daily see the certificates, it means therefore that I am not desiring to be in a position where there are backlogs once again. One wants to be able to know that ‘John Browne’ has been registered, I report it to the party that ‘John Brown’ has been registered in box ‘x’ of constituency ‘y’…the party can go about its due diligence because that helps the party as quickly as possible to determine if that registration is legitimate, if objections are to be made and how we as a party could reach those people.”
Mr. Vaughan argues that Mr. Bailey has no legal ground to determine when he should be given access to the Certificates of Registration but Mr. Bailey says there is likewise no legal ground that specifies when a Scrutineer should get access.
WINN contacted Mr. Bailey on Wednesday, July 13, for comment on the matter. WINN asked if the Certificates of Registration had ever been tampered with before. Mr. Bailey said, “we’ve never really had any Scrutineers sitting there religiously doing what this Scrutineer is doing so the answer is no.”
The certificate is an integral part of the registration so while we are, during the day, using the book, we don’t really want to be giving it out, taking it back, giving it out. If Mr. Vaughan wants to get access to the book, he can get it…but during the day while we are registering people, we don’t really want to disrupt our registration process or the flow when people are coming, to be dealing with the Scrutineer.”