Requests Meeting of Ad-hoc Committee for Electoral Reform
PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Party for Progress Member of Parliament Melissa Gumbs expressed her satisfaction with the response received from Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs regarding the MP’s request to consider amending the country’s Kiesbesluit (Electoral Resolution).
Gumbs had submitted a letter to the Prime Minister on 13 September 2022 to request that the Prime Minister, and by extension the Government, consider amending article 12 of the Kiesbesluit. Currently, article 12 outlines the appearance and setup of the country’s voting booths. It states that each booth will have one wall of one meter high, two walls of two meters high, and a curtain, which the voter pulls across once they are in the booth.
Gumbs had stated in her letter that the three walls provide sufficient privacy, especially considering that there is precedence within the Kingdom for the removal of the curtain; to date, only Aruba and St. Maarten still have a curtain behind their voters. The letter highlighted the fact that the curtain allows for voters who have sold their vote to take pictures with their cell phones as proof to provide to the ‘purchaser’ of their vote.
“I fully comprehend the situation many face when selling something as sacred as their vote,” Gumbs says. “But the fact is that this type of electoral fraud causes more long-term damage to the entire country, including those who sell their vote, than it brings short-term relief. Candidates who prey on people’s dire financial situations, especially as we move towards an election in a time of high inflation, should be ashamed of themselves and are not fit for public service.”
In her response dated 7 December 2022, Prime Minister Jacobs expressed her thanks to MP Gumbs for bringing the proposed article change to the Government’s attention. The Prime Minister continued to state that “we can agree with your preliminary findings and assessment that this proposed immediate measure can help to enhance measures currently under review to combat voter fraud.”
She then informed Gumbs that she would be taking up the proposal as Government’s internal process moved along and would provide a further update to Gumbs, as well as the entire Parliament, in January 2023. In the meantime, MP Gumbs has requested a meeting of the Ad-hoc Committee for Electoral Reform regarding the topic of the Kiesbesluit, with the goal of assessing the sentiment of the members of Parliament where it pertains to the removal of the curtain.
“It’s my sincere hope that my colleagues join the Prime Minister in seeing the merit in this proposal,” Gumbs stated, “especially considering the many discussions regarding integrity and the further securing of our electoral process that have occurred in this and other Parliaments in our years since becoming a country.”