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Anguilla Election Basics

Anguilla is an internally self-governing overseas territory of the United Kingdom.  Its politics takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic dependency, whereby the Chief Minister is the head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system.

The United Nations Committee on Decolonization includes Anguilla on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.  The territory's constitution is Anguilla Constitutional Order 1 April 1982 (amended 1990).  Executive power is exercised by the government.  Legislative power is vested in both the government and the House of Assembly.  The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

Anguilla elects a legislature on a territorial level.  The House of Assembly has 11 members, seven members elected for a five-year term in single-seat electoral districts, two ex officio members and two nominated members.


An election allows those eligible to vote (the electorate) to decide who should represent their views and interests. Elections are held at regular intervals to enable the population to change their representative if they no longer feel that the current postholder best represents those views and interests.

Fair and free elections are an essential part of a democracy, allowing citizens to determine how they want the country to be governed.


A general election is held when Parliament is dissolved by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister of the day. General elections must be held every five years at least.

Anguilla is divided into seven electoral districts. Voters in each electoral district elect one member of parliament to send to the House of Assembly on the first past-the-post system.

A political party is a group of people who seek to influence or form the government according to their agreed views and principles. There are a number of political parties in Anguilla. Each party nominates one candidate for each electoral district. Independent candidates may also stand for elections.

The party or coalition of parties that wins the most electoral districts is asked by the Governor to form the government. The leader of that party or coalition becomes the Chief Minister. If the party wins in four or more electoral districts, it will have a majority government, which makes it much easier to get legislation passed in the House. If the winning party has fewer than four seats, it may form a minority government or join with another party or independents to form a coalition government. In order to get legislation through the House, a minority government usually has to adjust policies to get enough votes from representatives of other parties.

The party that has the second highest number of seats in the House of Assembly and which is not part of a government coalition is called the Official Opposition.


The Governor, acting after consultation with the Chief Minister, may at any time, dissolve the House of Assembly.  Unless sooner dissolved, the House of Assembly will be dissolved by the Governor at the expiration of five years from the date when the Assembly first meets after any General Election. A General Election must be held within two months of the dissolution of the House of Assembly, on such date as the Governor may by proclamation appoint.

Aside from general elections, for which all seats are open, by-elections are held when a member of Parliament dies or resigns.

The Chief Minister's power of discretion adds an element of spontaneity to the electoral process that does not exist in systems where voting dates are fixed on the calendar. Chief ministers generally ask the Governor, the formal head of state, to dissolve Parliament when they think their party has the best chance of winning a general election.

Other factors may force an election on a Chief Minister. It is a convention (established practice) that if a government is defeated in the House of Assembly on a vote of confidence, then a general election will follow.

The dissolution of the House of Assembly does NOT affect the day-to-day business of the Government.  Executive Council members remain in charge of their portfolios. Following the dissolution of the House of Assembly it is, however, expected that Ministers will refrain from initiating any action of a continuing or long-term character.


Groups of people who have similar ideas about the major issues affecting society form political parties. Political parties nominate candidates and compete in elections to shape government policy. They form useful ‘umbrellas’ for voters by defining a set of principles they represent. Like-minded voters can be assured that a candidate representing a party will act in accordance with these principles, providing an indication of the candidate’s behaviour, if elected.

Independents are candidates who do not belong to a political party. Independents may appear as such on a ballot, or choose to have only their name listed.

In Anguilla, a candidate may be any person who at the date of his election:

  1. is a Anguillan citizen of the age of twenty-one years or upwards;
  2. has resided in Anguilla for a period of twelve months immediately preceding the date of his election; and
  3. is able to speak and, unless incapacitated by blindness or other physical cause, to read the English language with sufficient proficiency to enable him to take an active part in the proceedings of the House..

Learn more about the candidates in the 2015 General Election »


Anyone who wishes to stand for election must be nominated on an official nomination paper submitted on Nomination Day by at least two persons who are registered in the Electoral District for which the candidate is seeking election. The candidate's consent should be given in writing on the nomination paper and attested by one witness..

Candidates must stand either for an established political party or as an independent. All candidates must pay a deposit which is lost if they do not secure a specified number of votes.

Uncontested seats

If at 4 pm on Nomination Day, only one qualified candidate has been nominated for the seat, the Returning Officer shall declare that candidate to be duly elected for the seat.


The formal campaign is a relatively short-lived affair: the Chief Minister must give a minimum of three weeks and a maximum of six weeks' notice for a general election.  In practice, informal campaigning tends to start much earlier.

During the campaign, parties and candidates use a variety of approaches to reach voters and get their message out.  Traditionally, these might include house-to-house canvasing, spot meetings, mass meetings, and political rallies.  Concerts are related activities to reach the younger voters are now also part of a modern political campaign.

During the election campaign, all the main political parties produce a wide range of publicity material, including brochures, printed advertisements, and direct mail letters.  Manifestos are usually published setting out the party's policies on each major issue.  Some candidates may also publish their own manifestos outlining the specific activities for their electoral district.

In the modern political age, technology is the backbone of any campaign.  Increasingly, parties and candidates are using dedicated websites, blogs, and social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube to get out their appeals.  Party manifestos, campaign songs, promotional videos, and candidate profiles are usually all available online.

The headquarters of each political party is responsible for preparing party election advertising material and broadcasts for television, radio, and online media.  There is often a dedicated campaign team, which includes seasoned campaigners, party operatives, and professional political strategists.  Statisticians, programmers, and graphic artists are usually now part of that team.


Anguilla has universal adult suffrage, i.e. you are entitled to vote in a general election if you are an Anguillan citizen, and will be 18 or older on polling day.

Elections are by secret ballot. Ballot papers are anonymous, to prevent undue influence on voters, and the ballot boxes are sealed to prevent electoral fraud.


On Polling Day, Anguillans do not vote for a Chief Minister, but for candidates running in each of the seven single-seat electoral districts throughout the country. A party needs to win in at least four electoral districts to command a majority in the House of Assembly, which allows it to choose a Chief Minister, formally appointed by the Governor . Once selected, the Chief Minister begins the task of forming a government.

Each electoral district is divided into a number of polling stations, each of which has a polling station. Most polling stations are in public buildings such as schools and churches, but other buildings can be used on request. Voting takes place on election day from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Voting is by secret ballot, and the only people allowed in the polling station are the presiding officer (who is in charge), the polling clerks, the duty police officers, the candidates, their election agents and polling agents and the voters. However no politician, either in government or in opposition, or any other person for that matter, knows for whom a person has voted.

Just before the poll opens, the presiding officer shows the ballot boxes to those at the polling station to prove that they are empty. The boxes are then locked and sealed. In the polling station voters are directed to the presiding officer or polling clerk, who asks the voter his or her name, checks that it is on the register, and places a mark against the register entry. This records that the voter has received a ballot paper but does not show which one. The officer or clerk gives the ballot paper an official mark before handing the paper to the voter. The official mark is intended to show that the papers placed in the ballot box are genuine.

The ballot paper lists the names of the candidates in alphabetical order. Voting takes place in a booth, which is screened to maintain secrecy. The voter marks the ballot paper with a cross in the box opposite the name of the candidate of his or her choice, and fold the paper to conceal the vote before placing it in the ballot box. All voters are required to dip their right index finger in electoral ink prior to putting their ballot paper in the ballot box.

A paper that is spoiled by mistake must be returned to the presiding officer. If the Presiding Officer is satisfied that the soiling was accidental, another paper is provided and the first is cancelled.

At the end of the voting the Presiding Officer delivers those spoilt papers to the Returning Officer. The ballot boxes are then sealed and delivered to the central point - the Counting Station, where the count is to take place.




All ballot boxes are taken to a central place in each electoral district where counting takes place. Each ballot box is emptied, the papers mixed up and the votes counted by teams of helpers. This is done in the presence of the candidates. When all the votes have been counted the results are announced by the Returning Officer. Depending on the time it takes to bring all of the ballot boxes to the count and the result of the count, the final result may be announced before midnight. Most results will come in during the early hours of the morning, but some will not be known until well into the next day.


If the result is close then either candidate can demand a recount. The Returning Officer will advise the candidates of the figures and sanction a recount. Recounts can continue until both candidates and the Returning Officer are satisfied with the result.

Securing ballot boxes

After the ballots are counted they are sealed in boxes and kept in a strong room at the Police Headquarters and that those boxes could only be opened by a court order – by a judge – for the purpose of dealing with any dispute pertaining to the election results. After one year all ballot papers are destroyed by burning them to ashes.


For the first time Anguilla will have International Election Observers at its 2015 General Elections. Both the Chief Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have given their support to this arrangement.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has made funds available for the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) to provide a team of independent election observers.

Members of the observer team undertake a range of activities, including monitoring the media and election campaigns, reviewing the election law, the constitution and commitments the country is signed on to, in detail. They also examine the election machinery from polling clerks to the administrator as well as observe training. The team generally attempts to meet all the key stakeholders and party political activists. They attend party rallies, meet candidates, civil society organisations, academics, etc.. The observer team usually holds press conferences at the start and end of their visits, and at the end of the mission, the team prepares a report that is available to the public.


When all of the results are known the Governor will usually invite the leader of the party or coalition winning the most seats in the House of Assembly to be Chief Minister to form a Government.

The Chief Minister will appoint several members of his party or coalition to become members of the Cabinet.

The Executive Council

The Executive Council (Cabinet) consists of the Chief Minister and a number of other Ministers. Ministers are appointed by the Governor , acting in accordance with the advice of the Chief Minister, from among the members of the Houses. The Governor , with the advice of the Chief Minister, may also appoint Parliamentary Secretaries to assist Ministers in the discharge or their functions.

The Opposition

The party that wins the second-largest number of seats in Parliament, and which is not part of the government, comprises the opposition, which forms a "shadow" cabinet poised to assume power at any time during the ruling government's five-year term.

The Governor appoints as Leader of the Opposition the person who, in his/her judgment, is best able to command the support of a majority of those members of the House who do not support the Government.

The New Parliament

A few days after the general election the House of Assembly assembles in preparation for the new Parliament to begin. All Members of Parliament must be sworn in by taking an oath of allegiance or making an affirmation, and must sign the official register. The Speaker is customarily selected by a vote of the sitting members of parliament.


Anguilla usually has two kinds of elections: general elections and by-elections.

A general election is an election for every electoral district in the country. While a general election can seem like one election, it is actually many separate elections happening at the same time, because its purpose is to fill all of the seats, which became vacant when parliament was dissolved.

A by-election takes place when a seat in the House of Assembly becomes vacant between general elections.  If there are several vacant seats then a number of by-elections can take place on the same day.

A seat becomes vacant during the lifetime of a Parliament either when a Member resigns from Parliament, for example to take up a job which by law cannot be done by a MP, or because a Member has died.  The law also allows a seat to be declared vacant because of a Member's bankruptcy, mental illness, or conviction for a serious criminal offence.

A by-election does not automatically take place if a Member of Parliament changes political affiliation.

AUF = Anguilla United Front; AUM = Anguilla United Movement; DOVE = The DOVE Party; IND = Independent; * Incumbent; ** Political Leader

Government of Anguilla. 2014. Election Guidelines for the Anguilla Public Service

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 Anguilla Country Profile
 Anguilla Government Structure
 Anguilla Election Basics
 The Parliament of Anguilla
 Anguilla Timeline
 Political History and Dynamics
 Electoral Legislation
 Anguilla Heads of Government
 Women in Politics in Anguilla
 Your Right to Vote
 Deciding Which For Candidate to Vote
 Election Debates
 Election Observers
 Teacher Resources
 Glossary of Election Terms
AUF Anguilla United Front (AUF)
AUM Anguilla United Movement (AUM)
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