Nigerian students studying in St. Vincent and the Grenadines will not be prevented from voting in the upcoming elections simply because they are students.
“The law is very clear on the fact that a Commonwealth citizen who is residing in the country for a period of one year can be registered as a voter,” Supervisor of Elections Sylvia Findlay told I-Witness News on Monday.
“So, for our purposes, we will not discriminate against somebody because the person is a student. But as along as the person has been living here legally for one year…” she said.
Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace told a rally of his New Democratic Party in Redemption Sharpes on Saturday that he has inquired of Findlay about whether the students would be allowed register as voters.
“She say she go look into it. I haven’t heard the outcome yet, but what I want to say, Nigeria is a Commonwealth country and if you resided here for a year from a Commonwealth country, you can end up voting legally.”
Eustace said he wanted to know what decision has been taken in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on the question of the eligibility of Nigerian students voting.
He said there is a court case involving Nigerian medical students in St. Kitts who voted in that country’s general elections earlier this year.
“And the question is whether they are students living or whether they are really residing in St. Kitts. We have to answer that questions here too,” Eustace said.
Findlay noted to I-Witness News that a person can only vote if they are registered as a voter.
“If there is a question being raised as to whether those students will be allowed to vote, the first thing is that those persons can only be allowed to vote if they were registered as a voter.
“And I am saying, if they can provide evidence to the Electoral Office that they are, first of all bona fide Commonwealth citizens, secondly, that they have resided here legally for at least one year,
and they show up to be registered, we will register them, like any other commonwealth citizen who lives here.”
Findlay noted that a Commonwealth citizen must live in St. Vincent and the Grenadines for one year continuously to qualify for voter registration.
“But clearly, of the person is a student, then the person may have left the country for a brief period. Here is where the institution of learning also will come into play…” Findlay told I-Witness News.
“It has to do with the evidence that the person brings forward. If the Electoral Office doesn’t think that they have enough information, then clearly, they will not register the person. As long as we feel that we have enough information to register the person, we will,” Findlay said.