The eight members of the CPA BIMR Election Observation Mission to the BVI General Election 2023
The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association British Islands and Mediterranean Region (CPA BIMR) election observers have found that the British Virgin Islands 2023 General Election broadly met international standards. Following an invitation by the Governor, H.E. John Rankin CMG, the team of eight international observers, led by Hon. Fatoumatta Njai from The Gambia, observed last Monday’s General Election.
The CPA BIMR Election Observation Mission was on island from 16 until 26 April and spoke to a wide variety of stakeholders as part of the pre-election observation. It observed Advance Polling in 7 polling stations, and on Polling Day the Mission deployed teams to all 18 polling stations across Tortola, Jost van Dyke, Anegada and Virgin Gorda.
The Head of Mission, Hon Fatoumatta Njai from The Gambia, said: “The British Virgin Islands has delivered a well-administered election, which was carried out in a calm and professional manner. Polling staff were well-trained, diligent and helpful, and efforts to promote voting by elderly voters and persons with disabilities were commendable.”
In their Preliminary Statement, the Mission also highlights areas for improvement, including the lack of campaign finance regulations. Voters are unaware of sources of campaign funding, which is not in line with international best practice.
Following an audit process, there is now further clarity on eligibility for belongership status, which is linked to the right to vote. The Mission welcomes the momentum towards achieving legal certainty and improved implementation of the granting of belongership status, to enfranchise eligible voters.
The election campaign was described as “vibrant”, and voters were able to choose from a wide range of candidates. Still, the Mission noted that a considerable number of voters chose to stay away from the polls with a lower turnout compared to previous elections. Also, the participation of women in political life is not actively promoted, with the Mission highlighting that only 3 out of 13 elected Members to the House of Assembly were women.
The Preliminary Statement is now publicly available online.
The observers will be producing a Final Report within two months of Election Day. This Report will include greater detail on the Mission’s findings, and will include recommendations for the improvement of electoral processes for future elections.
The CPA BIMR Mission at the closing press conference on 26 April 2023