REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY THE GOVERNOR AUGUSTUS J. U. JASPERT
URING A JOINT PRESS CONFERENCE WITH
THE SUPERVISOR OF ELECTIONS MS. JULIETTE PENN
4th February, 2019
Good morning members of the press.
Welcome to Government House for this joint press conference with the Supervisor of Elections Ms. Juliette Penn. Together we wanted to set out a few details on the process of the elections. I wish to thank the Supervisor of Elections and her team for their commitment to a successful and efficiently run General Election; and I would like to thank the Deputy Governor’s Office for their work in taking forward the recently amended Elections Act.
As you are aware, on January 24, I issued two elections proclamations paving the way for the 2019 General Elections.
First, acting in accordance with section 84 (2) of the Virgin Islands Constitution Order 2007, I issued the first proclamation dissolving the House of Assembly on January 24.
Then on this same date in accordance with section 86 of the Virgin Islands Constitution Order 2007, I issued a second proclamation and appointed February 25 as the date on which the next general election will be held in the Territory.
On January 31, I signed the Writs appointing Thursday, February 14 as Nomination Day and Monday, February 25 as Polling Day.
The writs are formal instructions issued in accordance with the Elections Act. The writs instruct the appointed Returning Offices to carry out their functions on Nomination Day and Polling Day on the given dates. They also instruct the officers to report the election results to me no later than February 26.
Following the General Election, on February 26 the Supervisor of Elections will return the Writs to me.
I would then certify the results and this will pave the way for the swearing in of the Government.
Section 52 of the Constitution outlines the procedure for appointing the Premier and other Ministers of Government.
The Premier and members are sworn in at a ceremony that is jointly coordinated between the Premier’s Office and the Governor’s Office.
Given the short time frame within which the Government has to be sworn in, even though the Premier may identify the Ministers who will be responsible for ministries, the ministerial portfolios (subjects for which they are responsible) do not have to be finalised at this time.
The Premier would write to me to indicate the list of subjects as soon as he/she has finalised them and the requisite instruments will be prepared.
Section 70 of the Constitution outlines the procedures for appointing the Leader of the Opposition.
Further, I would like to add that with the Nomination Day now set, prospective candidates for the 2019 General Election are reminded to review sections 65 and 66 of the Virgin Islands Constitution Order 2007 that outline the qualifications and disqualifications, respectively for elected membership.
For this election, as in previous years, we will have election observers on the ground.
Following consultation with the Premier and Leader of the Opposition, I have invited the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) to organise a team to observe the Election in the BVI against international standards, commitments and obligations as well as local laws. The team will include members from across the globe and will be led by Honourable Pam Webster MNA from Anguilla.
This will be the third time that the CPA has been invited to observe the Elections.
Following the team’s visit, a report is usually submitted which is included with the Supervisor of Elections’ Report on the General Elections.
The report is then submitted to Cabinet and then laid on the Table at the House of Assembly.
Also on January 31, I assented to the Elections (Amendment) Act, 2019 bringing it into force on the said date. One of the highlights of the amendment is the electronic tabulating system to cast, scan and tabulate ballots.
Ms. Penn will speak more on this regarding how it will work and what provisions have been made to test the system prior to Election Day to assist with developing public confidence and trust in the system.
I am happy that the testing will be open to representatives of political parties, you the press and the public to build confidence and trust in the system.
Thank you and I believe that this is a good place to turn things over to the Supervisor of Elections.