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Commonwealth EOM recommends fixed election date; Code of Conduct

- Commission & Elections Code of Conduct among raft of elections reforms recommended in final report
The Commonwealth Elections Observer Mission. Photo: VINO/File
The Commonwealth Elections Observer Mission's final report. Photo: VINO
The Commonwealth Elections Observer Mission's final report. Photo: VINO
Elections Office. Photo: VINO/File
Elections Office. Photo: VINO/File
Supervisor of Elections Juliette Penn. Photo: VINO
Supervisor of Elections Juliette Penn. Photo: VINO
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI – The Commonwealth Election Observer Mission (EOM) that was here to observe the June 8, 2015 general election in the Virgin Islands submitted its final report on the elections this week. It recommended a number of electoral reforms including an independent elections commission, fixed election dates and political parties subscribing to a Code of Conduct.

The report is a follow up to the preliminary report that the mission had submitted days following the elections which saw the National Democratic Party (NDP) annihilating the Virgin Islands Party and others in what turned out to be 11 to 2 in favour of the incumbent NDP.

Fixed-term Parliaments

The Mission said that to avoid any unfair advantage or undue influence in the timing of an election, consideration should be given to introducing legislation on Fixed-term Parliaments, which would fix the timing of elections (i.e. every four or five years). “This would in turn allow all parties and candidates, as well as those involved in the administration of an election, the appropriate time and awareness to prepare accordingly,” the report said. “This would also ensure that the electorate could plan any business or leisure trips out of the country at a time that would not conflict with an election date,” it said.

Code of Conduct

The report said that to reduce the level of negative campaigning “comprising of personal attacks and accusations,” candidates and parties should be required to sign a ‘Code of Conduct’ for the duration of an election campaign, whereby they commit to a respectful and clean issues-based campaign.

“This would heighten the level of real discussion and debate during an election campaign and would encourage the electorate to have a higher regard for the candidates they are selecting to represent them in government,” said the report.

Election Administration

According to the report, there is a need for the creation of a permanent independent Elections Commission to provide adequate democratic oversight of the Office of the Supervisor of the Elections and “thus add a further layer of public accountability. Such a Commission would provide clarity over the complaints process which is currently in the remit of the Complaints Commissioner, the Attorney General, Director of Public Prosecutions, the Governor and the Deputy Governor.”

It said that such a Commission may reduce questions over partisanship within the Elections Office or appointments processes and give additional political momentum over necessary election reforms within election years, “which an Official alone may not achieve.”

In addition, the report said that due to the security requirements for storing ballot boxes and more importantly the sealing of ballots for the advance polls, “the Election Supervisor expressed concern that the office is not fit for purpose and a larger, more secure facility be sought.”

Legal Framework

The report said that in addition to consolidating the various statutes into a single piece of legislation for increased clarity, the law should also be amended “to include the establishment, registration and regulation” of political parties.

On the question of campaign financing, the report said that to level the playing field between candidates and parties competing in an election, campaign finance regulations should be introduced “to provide clear guidelines and limits on how much an individual or business can contribute to a candidate and/or party’s political campaign during an election period.” It said that transparency is needed in the amount a candidate or party spends throughout an election campaign which should be regularly reported and published.

“Penalties should be imposed on those candidates or parties who do not respect the regulations in place,” the report recommended.

In a comment to this news site today September 11, 2015, Supervisor of Elections Juliette Penn said that she has not fully studied the document. She said, however, it is up to the Government to act on the recommendations made by the Commonwealth Mission.

See link to previous story here: http://www.virginislandsnewsonline.com/en/news/elections-act-was-breached-commonwealth-observers

7 Responses to “Commonwealth EOM recommends fixed election date; Code of Conduct”

  • ABC (11/09/2015, 19:25) Like (13) Dislike (3) Reply
    Ndp buy the election bottom line
  • Observer (11/09/2015, 23:09) Like (3) Dislike (1) Reply
    Oh Well nothing will change trust me
  • Humour (12/09/2015, 00:42) Like (2) Dislike (1) Reply
    You gave them the money to buy it
  • wize up (12/09/2015, 06:27) Like (5) Dislike (0) Reply
    as a developing society it is about time that we have a definate date for elections: we are now in 2015 and no one person or any given political party should hold our territory hostage as it relates to an election date: we the people must definitely know when we are going to the poles; its the best way forward for a developing community: its is utter foolishness for one person or their poltical party to inform us when they see it fit to disclose a voting date: we want a definite date for elections
  • Voter Too (12/09/2015, 08:48) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    First I must say I miss VINO for the few days without any updates and news. Welcome back. I made a recommendation of having a fixed date for election and I do believe this should go for all countries too. I am also pleased that they suggested a code of conduct as too many things were getting out of hand. We will see if the government along with the Commission will put the necessary requirements into place so as to have a free and fair and free from fear next elections
  • dog (12/09/2015, 23:22) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    yes to fixed election dates and YES to debates where the people get to meet and hear candidates plans. This is not just a popularity contest. These people will change the course of the character and direction of the BVI entirely. This also means needing transparency (again) and how these big resort deals get pushed through without more public meetings. These surprise elections are unfair as we have seen repeatedly.
  • NHI debate (13/09/2015, 18:12) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
    I agree on a fix date. atlease it must be a day in November of the 4th year. Also we need debates.. start with the at large. we need a debate on NHI two who for and two against. let's hear both sides of the arguments. my question on NHI. Why the Cap? he who earns more pay more then reduce the percentage from 7.5 to 6 and still have more funs coming in.


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