ABEC notes delays but insists registration is still on track

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Despite losing about 10 hours in registration time over the course of Wednesday and Thursday, Chairman of the Antigua & Barbuda Electoral Commission (ABEC) Juno Samuel is adamant that the timetable for registering eligible voters is still on track.

Registration centres across the island opened several hours late due to an islandwide power outage on Wednesday. In most cases registration began after midday. Thursday’s delay, lasting close to four hours in some instances, was reportedly on account of a system shut down.

“Local technicians were making adjustments to speed up the system to increase the number of registrants some time before 7 am that caused the system to shut down,” Samuel said.

Questioned about a second successive day of delays, Samuel told OBSERVER media, “I am confident we will register as many as yesterday.”

He was referencing Tuesday’s registration total, which according to Public Relations Officer Anne Harewood-George was 1,600. The chairman said he based his confidence on the capability of the system.

A technician from Canadian Bank Note (CBN), facilitators of the registration system, eventually solved the problem, Samuel said.

He also said he’s been reassured that Thursday’s problem will not reoccur.

Even as ABEC reports resolution of the issues as they crop up, there is growing angst in some quarters that the period of mass registration, now ending week two, will fall short of the target of registrants. This week alone is likely to see a smaller total than last week, which stood at 9,000.

Samuel told OBSERVER he’s adopting a wait-and-see approach, and has no immediate plans to yield to overall calls to expand the designated period or to make up for the hours lost this week.

His only commitment was, “Now that has happened we will have to assess the situation and see what we can do to make up for that time.”

(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)