Referendum mandate defined

As few as 3,508 registered voters could conceivably create a mandate for the People’s Progressive Movement to commence negotiations with the UK for a new constitution.

Although the definition of a mandate is not defined in the proposed Referendum (Constitutional Modernisation) Bill 2008, Cabinet Minister Alden McLaughlin stated the PPM’s position of what constituted a mandate in the upcoming referendum.

‘The government would not consider it had a mandate if less than 50 per cent of those voting voted yes, or if the voter turnout was less than half,’ he said Monday.

There were 14,027 registered voters as of 20 April, 2008. The Election’s Office previously stated that the deadline for registering to be eligible to vote in the referendum was 29 February, 2008.

Accordingly, at least 7,014 would have to vote in the referendum for the turnout to reach half of the registered voters, and at least 3,508 would have to vote affirmatively.

The referendum question asks ‘Do you agree with the revised proposals for constitutional modernisation published by the government on 22 May, 2008’.

The question gives three possible answers, with the first response being ‘I agree with the revised proposals and the third possible response being ‘I disagree with the revised proposals’. The second response states ‘I agree with the revised proposals except as noted in Part 2 below’. Part 2 then asks whether the voter disagrees with any of 12 specific parts of the revised proposals.

Only voters who answer ‘B’ in the original question are to proceed to Part 2.

The Referendum Bill -which has yet to be tabled or debated by the Legislative Assembly – does clear up how votes on the ballot will be counted if voters do otherwise than instructed.

If a voter gives the answer ‘A’ and then also marks any box in Part 2, then the vote will be counted as if the person responded ‘B’.

If a voter gives the answer ‘B’ but then fails to mark any box in Part 2, then the vote will be counted as if the person responded ‘A’.

If a voter gives the answer ‘C’ and then also marks any box in Part 2, then the vote will be counted as if the elector had not marked any box in Part 2 of the ballot.

The government is expected to make an announcement about the referendum – including presumably the date it will be held – later this week.

Although the Legislative Assembly resumes on Wednesday, Mr. McLaughlin said it was not likely the referendum bill will be tabled Wednesday or Thursday.

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