MP Grisha Heyliger-Marten.
~ Says voters have a big responsibility as well ~
PHILIPSBURG--Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Grisha Heyliger-Marten says she is optimistic about the process of electoral reform that is currently underway.
Her statement comes ahead of a meeting of Parliament’s Ad-Hoc Committee on Electoral Reform (AHCER) scheduled for Tuesday, February 21.
On November 29, 2022, Heyliger-Marten sent a letter to Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs requesting to add a unique barcode to each ballot, and digitally scanning each ballot taken out of ballot bins.
According to Heyliger-Marten, what apparently happened during previous elections, is that so-called “dummy ballots” were used to first create invalid votes, and then once the voter left the polling station and was paid, the actual vote was cast on a valid ballot.
In her letter to the Prime Minister, the MP stated that adding unique barcodes to each ballot will prevent this voter fraud from happening, and also speed up the process of counting the votes after the closure of the polling stations.
She also stated that St. Maarten needs to transition to a more secure and efficient way of voting, especially with all the modern technology available these days. According to Heyliger-Marten, in a functioning democracy, there should be no need to have to wait until after midnight or the next day before getting the results and election statistics.
“I am pleased that the Prime Minister has responded to the proposals by fellow MP Melissa Gumbs and my person last year to make substantial changes to the electoral decree (Kiesbesluit) aimed at guaranteeing free and fair elections,” Heyliger-Marten stated. As such, I look forward to the input of all MPs and the debate on how to move the process forward.
Heyliger-Marten also called on the voting public to play its part in improving the electoral process. “Deciding on who to vote for and casting your vote is a serious matter,” she stated. “As Parliament, we can request the government to improve the functioning of our democracy by making the voting process more transparent, efficient, and secure. However, it is ultimately up to the voters to participate in the democratic electoral process in a responsible manner and make it work for the general benefit of [St. Maarten – Ed.] and its people”, Heyliger-Marten concluded.