BVI News

Put mechanisms in place for absentee voters


As the dust settles on the 2019 election in the British Virgin Islands, former BVI/UK representative Benito Wheatley is calling on the authorities to implement new ways to capture the ballots of Belongers who live away from the BVI.

“We know that the voter turnout was down and a part of that is, I suspect, many persons did not return to the territory after they were displaced from the hurricanes. So we really need to figure out how to get voting done to ensure that those people will not miss the opportunity to vote,” he told BVI News.

“There is so much at stake here, and I think it was incumbent on the authorities to make it happen and I hope that they will look at it over the next four years and put something in place.”

Wheatley, who lived outside the BVI while serving as a diplomat, said the territory can pattern after other countries who have similar systems in place.

“Absentee voting is nothing strange … there are examples of how it can be done, and we should not be afraid to consider it,” he said.

I wasn’t surprised at the results

In the meantime, Wheatley said he wasn’t surprised by the outcome of the General Election which saw the Virgin Islands Party sweeping the majority to form the next government.

“When I looked at the arithmetic of this election in terms of looking at districts one to nine and the parties that had district candidates, the VIP was the only one that had 13, and the others had less,” he said.

He said in such a competitive race, political parties who were short on district candidates did themselves a disservice in getting votes for their At-Large candidates.

“What happened to the VIP is that they racked up At-Large numbers all the way through every district and the total number put them over the top. So I think it is a lesson to be learned by the rest of the other political parties who did not win as many seats. If you want to be competitive in a multi-party political system, you need to have a full slate of candidates to win. That’s what I thought of ahead of the election, and it seemed just to play out that way,” he noted.

Hold VIP accountable

He also wasted no time to urge residents to “hold the VIP to account for what they have promised” during their campaign.

He said he was also pleased that the people of the territory had four political parties to choose from and urged them to unite to rebuild the country.

Wheatley also commended the government for a ‘well-organised election’ particularly for integrating ballot tallying technology this year.

“I think we have set a new standard for elections which we can be proud of and be an example for other territories and countries,” he said.

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  1. Politico Nuevo says:

    Totally agree with E. Benito Wheatley that absentee voting policy should be crafted and implemented. Some Virgin Islanders living temporarily outside the territory have to journey back home to partake in the electoral process. Also agree that the residents must stay engaged, advocating for transparency, responsibilty and accountability. It must hold VIP feet to the fire; it cannot permit the boil frog activity to take place.

    Nonetheless, I take a diffrent view on the election outcome and the impact of not fielding a full slate. Looking at the district and at large candidates, I surmised that a coalition government was highly likely. Didn’t expect VIP to run the table on at large candidates. Even the Hon Premier Andrew Fahie was surprised (interesting) that Myron Walwyn was not among the At Large winning candidates. Moreover, in my view a party running less than a full slate (13 candidates) but a strong team could win at least 7 seats. For example, in the last election, the encumbent NDP ran 11 candidates and barely captured 3 seats ( one of whom has since resigned). The NDP’s demise at the poll was due to party leadership, split/fragmenting of the party, poor party performance/stewardship the last four years…….etc. The ship of state was ineffectively navaigated the last 4 years. If the NDP had demonstrated exemplary stewardship the last four years (regardless if it were seeking a third consecutive term),it could have ran 7-8 candidates and may have been re-elected.

    Like 11
  2. good read says:

    Nice summary of the elections this year. Good read!

  3. i see says:

    You giving us money to buy the expensive plane tickets to travel back home to vote ?

    It’s hard all over and if I can’t afford it am not coming…..point blank.

    Like 1
    Dislike 3
    • LCS says:

      This is why they will look to implement mechanisms for voting even if you are outside the BVI. No need to come over to vote. That is the whole idea.

  4. BVislander Overseas says:

    All of what Mr. Wheatley said makes perfect sense. Many BVIslands who are temporarily leaving abroad wanted to make the journey home to vote but simply couldn’t for various reasons. I even went as far as making an inquiry directly with the Office of the Supervisor of Elections only to be told that for one to participate in the general election you had to be present in the BVI on Election Day. We as a country is still far behind despite the advances we have made.

  5. Yes sir says:

    I think it could work but please stress LIVING TEMPORARY ABROAD.
    There are a number of people who lives permanently abroad but still come back to vote. this is wrong. There should be a period of residency requirement to be eligible to vote.

  6. Two Quick Observations says:

    Home is home….are you saying people who stay on the island should have more rights….total BS. The other observation and makes perfect sense…the At Large Constituency is affected by the number of districts covered…this is not rocket science.

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