USP will use the legal recourse to contest non-admission of candidate

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Member of Parliament (MP) Frans Richardson

PHILIPSBURG – Leader of the United St. Maarten (US) party MP Frans Richardson explained on Friday, August 19, that the party will use the legal recourse available to it to contest the non-admission of a candidate on its list by the Main Voting Bureau for the September 26 Parliamentary election.

A petition to the court was submitted since Thursday, August 18, and the petition letter would be sent to the Main Voting Bureau on Friday afternoon.

Richardson explained that due to an administrative oversight and several unforeseen circumstances up to the deadline to submit the list of candidates, one change wasn’t made on one piece of documentation.

He said the initial candidate was stuck in transit off-island and could not get back in time to sign his declaration or issue it in writing from where he was. As such, the party moved hastily to make the necessary changes. It was during this process, the administrative error occurred. According to the Main Voting Bureau, by law at this stage changes to an already submitted candidate list can only be argued in front of a judge.

The party is of the opinion that it has good grounds to contest the change in court considering that the replacement candidate had signed the personal declaration to contest the elections, and the candidate’s name appears on all, but one document: the original list of candidates.

Moreover, even if the party wants to keep the original candidate because the candidate has since returned to the island, this also would not be allowed because the candidate cannot sign and submit the declaration at this stage in the process. “So we can’t run the original candidate who was not here due to no fault of his own, and we can’t replace him with someone who is here and has signed during the corrections phase,” Richardson said.

Richardson stressed that if a party is given the opportunity to make corrections to documentation as prescribed by law, this should also include the original list IF a candidate on this original list has not signed the supporting documents or verified that he or she is indeed running by signing the personal declaration.

If this is clear, Richardson said he does not understand how the intent of the law can’t allow a change in this regard.

The party contends that the required documents and personal declaration that the replacement candidates have signed, should supersede the mere mention of a name on a list without any signed supporting documents.

“Because what use then are the personal declarations and other supporting documents for any particular candidate. It would mean that a party could submit a first list with anybody’s name on it, without the supporting documents, and that stands as is. There is something fundamentally wrong with that and we will contest it,” Richardson said.