58,477 persons listed in Civil Registry, parliamentary seats to remain at 15

   58,477 persons listed in Civil Registry,  parliamentary seats to remain at 15

From left: Justice Minister Anna Richardson, Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs and TEATT Minister Arthur Lambriex at Wednesday’s live Council of Ministers press briefing.


PHILIPSBURG--The number of parliamentary seats for the January 2024 elections will remain at fifteen and will not increase to seventeen.

Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs made the announcement during the live Council of Ministers press briefing on Wednesday. She said a total of 58,477 persons had been registered in the country’s Department of Civil Registry.

Article 45 of the Constitution states that Parliament shall consist of 17 members if the population amounts to more than 60,000 and no more than 70,000 persons. According to the Constitution, as the population increases, so can the number of seats in Parliament.

A total of 61,750 persons were registered at the Department of Civil Registry in October 2019 at the close of the Voters Registry, of whom 23,130 were eligible to vote in the 2020 parliamentary election, then caretaker Prime Minister Wycliffe Smith said at that time. A large number of persons were deregistered during the clean-up of the Civil Registry, a process that is still ongoing.

The number of parliamentary seats did not go up for the 2020 election because it was a snap election, Smith explained at the time. The increase in seats will take place in a regular election.

Only persons 18 years and older with the Dutch nationality and registered in the electoral register no later than 30 days prior to the date of nomination are entitled to vote.

Jacobs said on Wednesday, “There are 58,477 registered persons within our registry, which still leaves us at 15 Members of Parliament currently. So, based on the clean-up that has taken place, 58,477 [are registered – Ed.], which still keeps us at a Parliament of 15 if it remains that way by that time [the Voters Registry is closed].”

Jacobs explained that the project to clean up the registry was to have an accurate system. It will also benefit in the distribution of voting cards to the public. “So, again with this being said and especially after listening to a part of the opening statements at the PIVA [Persoonsinformationevoorziening or personal information provision] convention, it is important that people ensure that their correct address is listed within our registry system. …

“This clean-up [of the Civil Registry] is based on persons either not communicating to written documentation sent to the address that we have registered. There is a whole trajectory for that. So, if you have received a mail from the Civil Registry and you have not responded and you do not respond again after a second letter, you run the risk of being deregistered.

“So, please, if you have changed your address within the past year, within the past three or four years, whatever the case may be, and have not lived up to your obligation to notify the Civil Registry, I am hereby once again encouraging all persons to ensure that the correct address that you are currently residing at is also what is listed within the Civil Registry on St. Maarten.”

She explained that the final count would be determined at the close of the registry for voting.

“That would be the date. I am just giving an update as to what it is now. The number mentioned is for all registered [persons] – the total number of persons registered, including non-nationals. This is not the final number. The clean-up is still ongoing. On a daily basis, they are assessing persons. There is a process. …

“I have asked them at the [PIVA] convention to also seek alternative ways to communicate with persons if the mail isn’t working, but that is what the law prescribes. That is why I have encouraged persons who have changed their address to live up to their responsibility,” she said.

Jacobs also urged persons whose family members have passed away abroad to register their death certificates at the Department of Civil Registry or that person will still be considered as being alive in the system if their death is not reported.

“Sometimes you hear about a person who has died and a family member will say ‘I got a voting card for a person who has died,’ but if someone passes away in a foreign country, say the US, and that is not conveyed to the Civil Registry Department, then they are still alive in our system,” she explained. “Also to persons who have family members living abroad who have passed away and are still registered, that certificate of death has to be brought in to the civil registry to update our records, so that clean-up is still ongoing and it is not yet finished.”

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