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Turks and Caicos by-election set for March 22
Published on February 13, 2013 Email To Friend    Print Version

PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands -- The date of the Cheshire Hall and Richmond Hills by-election in the Turks and Caicos was announced as Friday, 22 March 2013 by the governor and the supervisor of elections on Tuesday.

The announcement of the date was held until the ruling on the two other election petitions were made: it would have been preferable to have had any by-elections on the one day. Now as one was dismissed on Tuesday and the other withdrawn on Monday, matters can proceed.

In accordance with the Constitution a by-election cannot be called sooner than 35 days following the seat in the House of Assembly becoming vacant and in any event, within 3 months. The steps in the calculation of the date of an election, as specified in the Elections Ordinance, exclude some days such as weekends or public holidays and an election is not permitted to take place on a Saturday or Sunday.

Consequently, a writ to authorise the holding of a by-election on 22nd March was signed on Tuesday by the governor.

The governor consulted with the premier and leader of the opposition before taking this decision and agreed with the premier that it would be right to hold the election before Palm Sunday and Holy Week. The governor has also separately consulted the leader of the opposition.

In order to comply with the provisions of the Elections Ordinance this requires moving the Commonwealth Day Public Holiday from 11 March to Monday, 25 March. The governor will make the change for this year only by notice published in the Gazette under section 3 of Public Holidays Ordinance.

Governor Ric Todd said, “After some weeks of uncertainty the outcomes from the election petitions are now clear. As we are all aware, the Court’s decision on the Cheshire Hall petition means that an equal number of elected seats in the House of Assembly are held by the PNP and PDM. It makes sense to resolve this situation as swiftly as possible with a by-election in March.”

Supervisor of Elections, Dudley Lewis, added, “I wish to remind electors in the Cheshire Hall and Richmond Hill District that the existing Register of Electors (valid until 31 March) will be used for this by-election. To reduce the delays experienced in the previous election in November, I am arranging for an increased number of polling stations and increased voting lines in each place. We will give more information in due course and I ask voters to refer to the media and TCIG website for further announcements to familiarise themselves with the improved voting arrangements.”

The petition on the result of the Cheshire Hall and Richmond Hill District was upheld by the Supreme Court on 7 February and the election result was declared void. The second petition challenging the result of the Grand Turk North District was dismissed by the Supreme Court on Tuesday. The third petition regarding North and Middle Caicos District was withdrawn by the petitioner on Monday.

Under section 59(2) of the Constitution an election must be held to fill the vacant seat on a date appointed by the Governor by proclamation published in the Gazette within 35 days to 3 months of the occurrence of the vacancy unless the House of Assembly is sooner dissolved or will be dissolved under section 57(3) (after four years from the general election) within four months of the occurrence of the vacancy.

Under section 63(2) of the Elections Ordinance 2012, the seat is becomes vacant when the election is voided by the virtue of the certificate from the trial judge and thereupon the governor can then issue a writ for a new election.
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