The Virgin Islands were discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1493. They became the possession of Great Britian in 1666 when the English Planters took control from the Dutch settlers and have been a British colony since 1672. The Virgin Islands became a Territory on July 1, 1956 and is currently a British Overseas Territory which falls under the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom (UK).
The Constitution of the Virgin Islands provides for a Cabinet comprising the Premier, four (4) Ministers and an Attorney General (ex-officio member). The Premier is the head of government.
Elections are governed by two authorities; the Elections Act and Amendments and the Virgin Islands Constitution Order. The Elections Act was introduced in 1994 with amendments in 1998, 2003, 2007 and 2011. The Virgin Islands Constitution was introduced in 1976 with amendments in 1979, 1982, 1991, 1994, 2000 and 2007. Prior to 1976 the Constitution Order was referred to as The Virgin Islands (Emergency Powers) Order 1967.
In the Virgin Islands, a House of Assembly is elected territory wide. The executive consists of Her Majesty and a House of Assembly. Authority of the Virgin Islands shall be vested in Her Majesty. The House of Assembly (formerly called the Legislative Council prior to 2007) consists of fifteen (15) members; thirteen (13) elected representatives for a four year term, nine (9) of whom are electoral district representatives and four (4) as territorial-at-large representatives, the Attorney General (non-voting, ex officio member ) and one elected speaker. The Speaker presides over the sittings of the House. A recommended member of the Opposition, chosen by members of the opposition, is appointed by the Governor to serve as Leader of the Opposition.
General Elections are constitutionally due every four (4) years. Candidates are nominated on Nomination Day with Advance Poll and Poll Day shortly thereafter. Candidates contesting the elections do so as members of a party or as independent. If at any time within the four year term an elected representative relinquishes office or dies, a By-Election will be held to fill the vacancy and replace the member in the House of Assembly. The need for an election sooner than four years can result if the ruling party requests, or if the ruling party or coalition seems to have lost its ability to control the Government.
Persons are eligible to become registered voters at age eighteen (18) on the submission and approval of an application. Only persons who are belongers of the Virgin Islands can be approved as registered voters. A registered voter can vote for up to five (5) candidates on Advance Polling Day and Polling Day (one (1) vote in the local electoral district and four (4)votes in the territorial-at-large district). In a local electoral district, only voters registered in that district and at a particular polling station can vote there.
National Democratic Party
Virgin Islands Party
Progressive Virgin Islands Movement
A handbook providing laws and guidelines for persons that has an interest to be a candidate in the General Elections of the British Virgin Islands. Click here to download.
*This map shows an approximation of the district boundaries.
The Elections (Amendment) Act, 2019 provides for the use of an electronic tabulating system. As in 2019, the 2023 General Election will include an electronic tabulating system to scan ballots, and count votes and report results.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. Will we be voting electronically?
A. No, voters will use paper ballots to select the candidates of their choice. Votes will be scanned and tabulated using the Precinct Scanner and Tabulator (DS 200).
2. What is different about the voting process?
A. Each voter will receive a single ballot that allows the voter to select one local electoral candidate and up to four territorial electoral candidates. The voter should indicate their selected candidate(s) by shading the oval. See sample ballot below.
3. What happens after the voter fills in their paper ballot?
A. After the voter makes their selections, they should bring the completed ballot to the electronic tabulating system.
4. What happens when I go to the electronic tabulating system?
A. The machine will display a message that states, “Welcome. Please insert your ballot.” The voter should then insert the ballot paper in the space indicated. If the voter has selected one candidate in the local electoral district and four in the territorial electoral district, a message will be displayed, “Thank you for voting.”
5. What happens if I select fewer than one candidate in the local electoral district and four candidates in the territorial electoral district?
A. The DS 200 will display a message to indicate that the voter has undervoted and offer two choices, Cast Ballot or Return.
Selecting Cast Ballot, will mean that the voter is satisfied with their choices. The electronic tabulating system will display a message that states, “Thanks for voting. Your ballot has been counted.”
If the voter selects Return, he or she will be given the opportunity to vote for the correct number of candidates on their paper ballot.
6. What happens if I select more than one candidate in the local electoral district and four candidates in the territorial electoral district?
A. If the voter selects more than one local district candidate and four territorial candidates, the DS 200 will display a message to indicate that the voter has overvoted and offer two choices, Cast Ballot or Return.
If the voter selects Cast Ballot, the electronic tabulating system will display a message that states, “Thanks for voting. Your ballot has been counted.”
If the voter selects Return, they should return the ballot to the Presiding Officer and request a new ballot.
7. How do I know that my ballot will be counted?
A. Once the voter selects Cast Ballot, ballot will be scanned and tabulated. The electronic tabulating system will display a message that states, “Thanks for voting. Your ballot has been counted.”
8. What is the main purpose of the electronic tabulating system?
A.The electronic tabulating system scans every ballot inserted into the machine and tabulates the results of the poll. Additionally, it ensures that the voters have marked their ballots correctly. This ensures that every vote gets counted, and no votes are missed.
9. Is the electronic tabulating system connected to the internet?
A. No, the machines are stand-alone machines and not connected to the internet.
10. Where are the tabulated results held?
A. The results are stored on a secure storage device in the electronic tabulating system from which the results are retrieved at the central counting station.
11. What assurance can you give to candidates that these storage devices will remain secured until they arrive at the counting station?
A. The storage devices will be sealed in pouches and carrying cases before being transported, in the presence of police officers, to the counting stations. The sealed pouches will be opened in the presence of election officials and counting agents.
12. How will you avoid persons tampering with the electronic tabulating machines?
A. Once tested, the machines will be locked, sealed and secured until Polling Day.
13. How will we know that the electronic tabulating machines are functioning properly?
A. Machines undergo Logic and Accuracy tests in the presence of election staff/workers. This testing ensures that all ballots are tabulating properly prior to demonstrating the accuracy of the machines to the public.
After Logic and Accuracy testing, public tests demonstrate the accuracy of the tabulation of all ballots to candidates, the media, and the general public. In accordance with the Elections (Amendment) Act, 2019, the machines will be tested not more than 10 days before polling day. The testing of the machines will be open to representatives of political parties, members of the press, and to the general public.
14. How will I know that cast ballots have not been placed in the electronic tabulating machines ahead of Polling Day?
A. At the start of the poll, as part of opening procedures, each Presiding Officer will open the ballot box and visually inspect the inside of the box to ensure it is empty. Presiding Officers then run a report to verify that the count is zero. This confirms that no ballots have been counted prior to Polling Day.
15. What happens if electricity goes off on Polling Day? Will the DS 200 continue to work?
A. The electronic tabulating system has a battery backup that can last four to six hours. This provides sufficient time for election officers to secure an alternative power supply.
16. The DS 200 will give faster results than manual counting, but how do I know that the results are accurate?
A. Logic and Accuracy tests are completed on each electronic tabulating system to verify that all results are correct. At the beginning of election day, Presiding Officers prompt the machine to produce a results report which verifies no ballots are already counted. A results report is also printed at the closing of the poll. Finally, all paper ballots cast are stored in the ballot box of the system and can be retrieved in the event a manual recount is required.
17. How do I know that persons will not hack into the electronic tabulating system?
A. Each electronic tabulating system is a stand-alone device with no connectivity to the internet or any other device. All files stored on the DS200 are encrypted with military-level encryption.