Press Releases

IN ANGUILLA VOTING IS SECRET

February 14th, 2010

The Supervisor of Elections, Mr Colville Petty, has issued a press release assuring voters that they have nothing to fear with respect to the secrecy of their ballots.  He said that no politician, either in government or in opposition, or any other person for that matter, knows for whom a person has voted.  He stressed that neither candidates nor politicians have any access whatsoever to the marked ballot papers.

Mr Petty said that after the ballots are counted they are sealed in boxes and kept in a strong room at the Police Headquarters and that those boxes could only be opened by a court order – by a judge – for the purpose of dealing with any dispute pertaining to the election results.  He revealed that after one year all ballot papers are destroyed by burning them to ashes.

The Supervisor of Elections emphasised that the security of the ballots papers, and other electoral documents, is his responsibility, a responsibility which he takes seriously, and that no person or persons, except a judge of the High Court, could compel him to hand them over for scrutiny.

Mr Petty said that he has been Supervisor of Elections since 1987 and that he was never once approached by any member of government, be it Sir Emile Gumbs’, Hubert Hughes’ or Osbourne Fleming’s government, for access to electoral records including ballots papers.  He expressed satisfaction that members of governments in Anguilla, as well as people out of government, have never ever sought to influence the way the electoral process is managed.

As regards concern among some quarters about presiding officers writing on the counterfoil of the ballot paper, a voter’s number on the official list of voters, Mr Petty pointed out that the Elections Act says that it must be done.  He quoted Section 49 (1) as saying, in part, that: “Each voter shall receive from the presiding officer a ballot paper . . . on the counterfoil of which the officer has placed a number corresponding to the consecutive number on the official list of voters …”  He opined that such a requirement is necessary in the event that a judge enquires into any alleged wrongdoing.

The Supervisor of Elections also pointed out that section 83 of the Elections Act imposes a duty on every election officer and candidate’s agent present at a polling station to maintain the secrecy of the voting in that station.  That section also forbids any person from interfering with voters, attempting to discover who a voter has voted for or inducing a voter to display his marked ballot.  A person convicted of any violation of these provisions that protect the secrecy of ballots may be fined or imprisoned for up to 6 months.

The Supervisor of Elections ended his press release by telling voters to go to the polls with the knowledge and confidence that no one will ever know for whom they have voted.  He said that Anguilla is not a Banana Republic.  Anguilla is a place where the rule of law prevails and where the people’s right to vote in secret is fully protected.