The OAS Observer Mission that monitored the July 11th 2011 Nevis Island Assembly elections in Nevis has congratulated the people of Nevis for their high turnout and peaceful exercise of their right to vote during this election. The Team noted that it was the first time that the OAS observed a local election in the Caribbean, and the second deployment of an electoral observation mission in St. Kitts and Nevis, the first being the January 25, 2010 General Elections.
“Likewise, the Mission notes with satisfaction the dedication and commitment of the poll workers to ensure a smooth process during Election Day, and the improved distribution of voters through polling stations in accordance with the OAS observations made in 2010,” said the OAS Team in a statement, which noted that on Election Day, the OAS international observers were deployed in all five constituencies and visited all of the polling sites. Once the polls were closed, they observed the collection and counting of the ballots.
The full report follows: During their meetings with different political parties, the observers collected complaints regarding the preparation of the voter registry, and the Mission’s legal expert observed the related cases presented before the High Court. The Mission noted that the procedures for objections and claims leading to the addition and removal of names and the dissemination of updated lists caused controversy. In this regard, observers confirmed that in some cases, notifications to voters whose names had been objected to were delivered after the scheduled hearing date, and that the procedure for investigation and resolution of objections lacked proper definition and transparency. In addition, the Mission also noted concerns related to the decision making process between the various levels of the electoral institutions regarding this matter.
On Election Day, the observers detected that a modified voter registration list had been produced for several districts on July 9th, while other districts maintained lists published on June 29th and July 1st. The Mission confirmed that voter names had been both added and subtracted to form the updated lists, thereby altering the eligibility for voting in certain areas two days prior to the election. This situation contributed to the atmosphere of confusion about and mistrust of the voter registration list that was observed during the process.
The Mission noted that almost all polling stations opened on time, all necessary materials were present, and the poll workers and party agents were present and committed to carrying out their role in the process. The police were observed successfully ensuring that voters could exercise their right in a peaceful and orderly manner.