Police and justice

Public Prosecutor Definitely Investigating Alleged Vote-buying St. Eustatius

Voters on St. Eustatius waiting in line to cast their vote during the March 2023 elections. Photo: Government of St. Eustatius

ORANJESTAD – Contrary to reports on news site dossierkoninkrijksrelaties.nl, the Public Prosecutor’s Office BES has indeed launched an investigation into a complaint of what is popularly called ‘vote buying’ on St. Eustatius. This was announced by the Dutch Minister of Interior Affairs, Hugo de Jonge, in a letter to Dutch Parliament.

The minister’s letter is interesting, as the Public Prosecutor BES had previously stated that it was not investigating possible fraud with proxy votes. This was the Public Prosecutor’s Office response came after a request from the government commissioner Alida Francis, who had expressed concerns about the high percentage of proxy votes cast during the Island Council and Electoral College elections in March 2023.

The percentage of proxy votes on St. Eustatius was 36.7 percent, considerably higher than the Dutch national average of eight to twelve percent.

Legislative Proposals

In the letter to Dutch Parliament, the minister also addresses possible measures to reduce the number of proxies. Additional support was provided to the public entities, including St. Eustatius, prior to the elections.

Work is also underway on two legislative proposals that affect the granting of proxies. The first proposal involves enabling early voting at the polling station and reducing the maximum number of proxies a person can cast from two to one. The second proposal aims to tighten the criminalization of the solicitation of proxies.

Widespread Fraud?

The Public Prosecutor’s Office had previously indicated that it does not recognize the image of widespread fraud portrayed in the article on dossierkoninkrijksrelaties.nl.  While now confirming that  there is indeed an ongoing investigation, the Prosecutor’s office also informs no currently no further statements can be made in the interest of the investigation.

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