St Maarten: the different steps of the elections


The citizens of St Maarten will go to the polls on September 26 in order to elect the members of their government. Their electoral system has specific rules that are laid out in the electoral ordinance articles  (ordinance.pdf). The mission of the Central Voting Bureau, an independent institution, is to ensure the proper conduct of the elections and compliance with the electoral ordinance at each step.

1. Postulation Day (Journée de candidature)

The political parties that have registered beforehand with the Electoral Council (EC) can submit their list of candidates between 9 am and 4 pm. They must have several supporting documents including a payment notification for 2000 NAF (1110 $). If they don’t get any seats, their registration fees are not refunded, which some say is a "double punishment".

2. Endorsment (Soutien)

On the day after Postulation Day, the new parties (and those which were not elected in the last elections) must have their list validated by a number of signatures corresponding to at least 1% of the votes cast in the last election (2014). Those that already sit in Parliament are exempt from this step.

3. The examination of the lists

Three days later, the Central Voting Bureau must meet to examine the lists and check that they meet all the criteria (supporting documents, EC-approved abbreviations, that any candidate’s name only appears on one list, etc). The results of this examination must absolutely be made public one working day later. The parties that so wish can appeal the Voting Bureau Council’s decision at this hearing. If necessary, the hearing must then be interrupted. 

4. The numbering of the lists

The list numbers are drawn by lot by the Central Voting Bureau where the lists are numbered according to the order in which they have been filed at the prefecture. Each party chooses its color at each election. In case two parties want the same color, it is then drawn by lot.

5. Election day

By decree, St Maarten is divided into voting areas (districts) which each have a polling station. Each polling station must gather at most 1500 voters. Voters are called to vote on Monday  September 26 between 8 am and 8 pm. According to the electoral ordinance, employers must grant their employees two hours in the day so that they can go to the polling station if the polling stations are closed after their working hours.

6. Validation of the votes

A vote may be declared null for various reasons, some of which are similar to French rules. For example, blank ballots are not acknowledged and are considered to be invalid, just like it is forbidden to add anything on the ballot. On the other hand, voters in St Maarten must absolutely use a red pen.

7. Allocation of Parliament seats

The allocation of the 15 seats in Parliament is proportional to the number of votes that the party obtained during the elections. This allocation is done by a precise and rather complex calculation method.

8. Validation of the results

The results are validated five days after the election at a public meeting which must be held at 10 am.

9. Election to the Parliament

Candidates are elected to Parliament within three days after the results are validated. They receive a written confirmation within five days and must inform the President of the Central Voting Bureau if they accept the election. Once the acceptance is received, the CVB President informs the Parliament. After which, the elected candidate has three weeks to take an oath before the Parliament in a letter.


Source: reading of Jason Rogers (Chairman, Central Voting Bureau) at the conference "The Law Matters to You" on August 29, 2016

Photo: the Central Voting Bureau during the allocation of the numbers and colors on the lists on September 2, 2016 (Government of St Maarten)

Fanny Fontan
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