The Electoral Boundaries Commission commenced its work on Wednesday in Grand Turk. The three Commissioners, Judge Margaret Ramsay-Hale; Chairwoman, Tremmaine Swann-Harvey; and Carl Simmons were due to spend Wednesday and Thursday examining the data gathered from addresses given by applicants to the Register of Electors; viewing maps depicting the geographical distribution of voters; receive a briefing on the principal data and population breakdowns gathered from the census; and discuss with the Land Survey Department the extensive data available on land boundaries and recent aerial surveys.
The role of the Commission is described in an Order-in-Council made by the Privy Council in November 2011. This Order was put into effect on 25 June 2012 by a Governor’s Proclamation and its terms of reference can be summarised as:
1. To determine the boundaries for ten electoral districts for elections to the House of Assembly that, as far as reasonably practicable, have an approximately equal number of registered electors
2. To seek advice from whomever appropriate
3. To prepare a draft report on the Commission’s recommendations for the new electoral boundaries
4. To consult and consider views from the public on the boundaries presented in a draft report
5. To submit to the Governor a final report recommending the boundaries of the ten electoral districts.
To permit the Commission to conduct their work and submit their report ‘as soon as practicable’ the Commissioner regulate their own procedures and in the discharge of its duties are not subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority. In addition, the Commission, at the discretion of the Governor, may confer powers or impose duties on any public officer or Government authority in order to complete their work in a timely and proper manner.
The Commission is being supported by Dudley Lewis, Supervisor of Elections, Shirlen Forbes, Chief Statistician and Leroy Charles, Land Survey Department. Once the Commissioners have reviewed the present data on voter numbers and distribution they will draft a provisional set of district boundaries during the next few days. Thereafter, the draft boundaries will be published for public review and comment.
During this consultation period the Commissioners may also consult with particular organisations such political parties and individuals. After they consider the views received a final report depicting the new boundaries will be presented to the Governor for approval.
The Commissioners will vacate their office on the day following the submission of their final report to the Governor. The intention thereafter is for the new district boundaries to be incorporated into a new Electoral Boundaries Ordinance and passed into law by the end of August.