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Electoral Boundaries Commission named PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Friday, 29 June 2012 13:51

Supreme Court Judge Margaret Ramsay-Hale, Tropical Shipping’s Carl Simmons and Misick and Stanbrook’s Tremmaine Swann-Harvey are the trio selected by His Excellency Gov. Ric Todd to determine one of the most important decisions relating to upcoming elections in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

The three-member Electoral Boundaries Commission was announced at a media briefing June 26 when the governor introduced the judge, lawyer and businessman.

“The outcome of the elections are indeed very important and have been long awaited by TC Islanders as they look forward to returning to self-governance, and it is my distinct pleasure to play any role in that,” said Judge Ramsay-Hale.

Swann-Harvey said she was committed to serve with integrity and impartiality. “This is a responsibility that I do not take lightly, as it is a role that will impact the outcome of the TCI for years to come,” she said.

Businessman Carl Simmons said he was honoured to be asked to serve. “These islands have been through trying times over the last several years, and this is an opportunity for us to set boundaries that are satisfactory to the electorate of these islands,” he said. “And I too, like my associates, will do the best job we can to make sure that all the compliance issues will be met.”

The commission selection process defined in the new Constitution Order was followed, according to the governor. The three-member panel is selected at discretion of the governor, but it must include one member of the judiciary. Todd said he received advice, as well discussing possible choices both informally and with the Advisory Council. Ultimately he decided on the three individuals based on their integrity and because he knew he could trust them.

The governor said he offered the two political parties the opportunity to come together and recommend one of the three members, which also is required in the new Constitution. However, despite written correspondence that began Feb. 7 to then Progressive National Party Leader Clayton Greene and People’s Democratic Movement Leader Derek Taylor, plus additional e-mails and personal recent conversations with current leaders, they made no suggestion, the governor said.

Dr. Rufus Ewing, who was just elected PNP leader over the June 1 weekend, attended the press conference. He denied having had any such conversations with the governor.

The role of the commission is to recommend 10 new constituent districts to replace the previous 15. When elections take place Nov. 9, a representative will be elected within each of those constituencies, as well as five at-large candidates elected nationwide.

The commission will have to weigh the wishes of each island population and try to create constituencies with broadly similar levels of registered voters.

The commission will be using data that includes the latest census results.

The governor said the commission is also open to input from the public, and particularly the political parties, in making their decision.

“It is up to this independent commission just how it intend to carry out its work, but it is clearly hugely significant to the voters of the TCI in ensuring that each and every vote carries the same weight across the country,” the governor said.

The commission is scheduled to meet in July and is expected give the governor its final recommendations by the end of July.

“I am looking forward with interest to their suggestions,” the governor told the news media, but ultimately the decision is up to him.

He said he would be making his decision public as quickly thereafter in order to allow those looking to pursue their political aspirations as much time as possible to prepare. With elections scheduled for Nov. 9, the window to campaign will be limited to around three months.

Photo: Tremmaine Swann- Harvey (left), Gov. Ric Todd, Carlos Simons and Judge Margaret Ramsay-Hale. 


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