Updated: View Site Map Site Map
Anguilla Election Centre 2015 Political Parties Electoral Districts Candidates Results Past Elections Voter Education
HOME PARTIES DISTRICTS CANDIDATES RESULTS PAST EDUCATION
Turks and Caiccos Islands Election Basics

The Turks and Caicos Islands 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 Premier is the head of government, and of a pluriform multi-party system.

The Turks and Caicos Islands elects a legislature on a territorial level.  The House of Assembly has 19 members - 10 members elected for a four-year term in single-seat electoral districts; five at large seats eleced in an All Island district (also in a first-past-the-post system); and and four appointed by the Governor after the elections (two at his own discretion, and two following consultations with the new Prime Minister and Lleader of the Opposition).

PURPOSE OF AN ELECTION

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.

HOW GENERAL ELECTIONS WORK IN THE TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS

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

The Turks and Caicos Islands is divided into 10 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. In addition, voters elect five at-large members in an All Island District.

Voters receive two ballots – one for their district and one for “all island” constituency. They can mark one candidate of their choice in their district and up to five candidates contesting the “all-island” constituency.

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 Premier. 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.

CALLING ELECTIONS

The Governor, acting after consultation with the Primer, 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 four 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 Premier'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. Premiers 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 Premier. 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.  Cabinet 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.

CANDIDATES AND POLITICAL PARTIES

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.

There are a number of political parties in the Turks and Caicos Islands, but mainly two parties have dominated the politcal landscape for the past 40 years - the People's Democratic Movement (PDM) and the Progressive National Party (PNP).

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.

A person shall be qualified to be elected as a member of the Legislative Council if - he has attained the age of 21 years - is on the date of his nomination for election resident in the Islands and has been so resident for not less than 12 months, in the aggregate, out of the 2 years immediately preceding the date and - fall into one of the following categories: i) he was born in the Islands ii) he was born outside the Islands of a father or mother either of whom was born in the Islands or iii) he has, under the law in force in the Islands regulating immigration, the status of 'Belonger'

Learn more about the candidates in the 2016 General Election »

NOMINATION DAY

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.

CAMPAIGNING

The formal campaign is a relatively short-lived affair: the Premier 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 advertisements in the media, posters, 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. According to new election regulations, distribution of free food and alcohol to voters was prohibited.

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.

WHO CAN VOTE?

The Turks and Caicos has universal adult suffrage, i.e. you are entitled to vote in a general election if you are an 18 or older on polling day. Only people who have a Belonger (“islander”) status and who on Election Day are 18 years old or above can register as voters in TCI.3 In addition, there is a residence requirement - an aggregated 12 months residence in TCI in the two years preceding the elections.

According to the law, the Belonger status could be obtained by a person who:

- was born in TCI, and at the time of his/her birth at least one of his/her parents had belonger status,

- was born outside TCI and at least one of his/her parents had belonger status at the time of his/her birth and at least one of his/her parents was born on the Islands,

- was born outside TCI and lawfully adopted by a person who had belonger status,

- has been granted a Certificate of Belonger Status by the Governor for having made a significant social or economic contribution to the development of the islands, or

- is the spouse of a belonger who has made an application for belonger status and has lived with his/her spouse for a period of five consecutive years.

POLLING DAY

On Polling Day, voters do not vote for a Premier, 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 Premier 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 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. No voters maybe admitted to a polling station after 7:00 pm.

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.

HOW TO VOTE

Each voter will receive two ballot papers, a white one for that electoral district and green one for the All Islands District (the at large candidates).

All candidates’ names will be listed alphabetically on both papers. Their party symbols will be beside their names. Any independent candidate who does not have a party symbol will have the letters ‘IND’ shown against their name.

All Ballot Papers will be marked by the Presiding Officer to show that they are genuine ballot papers.

Presiding officers will show voters how to make their votes on the papers and how to fold their papers so that no-one can see how they voted.

There are two ballot boxes – one for the white papers for the Electoral District candidates and one for the purple All Island candidates.

On the white Electoral District ballot paper, choose ONE candidate. Using the pencil provided, mark the paper by placing a mark (X) in the box opposite the name of the candidate of your choice. Important: if you vote for more than one candidate your vote will not count.

On the purple All Islands ballot paper, choose up to but not more than FIVE candidates. You do not have to use all five votes. Using the pencil provided, mark the paper by placing a mark (X) in the box opposite the names of the candidates of your choice. You can allocate your votes to more than one party. Important: if you vote for more than five candidates your vote will not be counted.

It is important not to vote for more candidates than you are allowed to vote for. In particular, you can vote for any number up to five on the green All Islands district ballot paper. The candidates you choose to vote for can be selected from those representing one or both parties contesting the All Islands district or the independent candidate – it is entirely your choice as part of the secret ballot process in use at the election.

To be able to vote at the polling station, your details must appear on the official list for that polling station. This means that you have to vote at the polling station to which you have been allocated within your electoral district.

If you try to vote at another polling station in the electoral district to which you have not been allocated and where your details do not appear on the official list, you will not be allowed to vote and will be referred to the polling station to which you have been allocated.

COUNTING THE BALLOTS

All ballot boxes are taken to a central place in each electoral district where counting takes place. There will be a separate count for the Electoral District and the All Island votes. After the All Islands ballot papers have been counted at each polling station, the papers and the result will be transported to Grand Turk for the final calculation by the returning officer there.

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.

The candidate who obtains the highest number of votes in an Electoral District is declared the Member of the House of Assembly for that district.

The five candidates who obtain the most votes on the All Islands district will similarly be elected as members of the House of Assembly.

The official results for each of the districts and the All Island District will be published in the Gazette.

Recounts

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.

OBSERVING THE ELECTION

As in previous election, the 2016 election witll have International 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.

AFTER THE RESULTS

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 Premier to form a Government.

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

The Cabinet

The Cabinet consists of the Premier and a number of other Ministers. Ministers are appointed by the Governor , acting in accordance with the advice of the Premier, from among the members of the House. The Governor, with the advice of the Premier, 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.

GENERAL ELECTTION AND BY-ELECTIONS

The Turks and Caicos Islands 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.

Key
PDM = People's Democratic Movement; PDA = Progressive Democratic Alliance; PNP = Progressive National Party; IND = Independent; * Incumbent; ** Political Leader
Sources
 
Fact Check
We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, or if you would like to share additional information on the topic, kindly contact us!
How to Reference Our Site
To reference our site, please use the following as a general guideline.
APA: KnowledgeWalk Institute. (Date Published).Title of Web Page. Retrieved from (URL)
MLA: "Title of Web Page." caribbeanelections.com. KnowledgeWalk Institute, (date published). Web. Date Accessed.
Chicago: "Title of Web Page," KnowledgeWalk Institute, last modified (date), URL.
 SEARCH CARIBBEAN ELECTIONS
 VOTER EDUCATION learn more
 TCI Country Profile
 TCI Government Structure
 TCI Election Basics
 The Parliament of TCI
 TCI Timeline
 Political History and Dynamics
 Electoral Legislation
 TCI Heads of Government
 Your Right to Vote
 Deciding Which For Candidate to Vote
 Election Observers
 Teacher Resources
 Glossary of Election Terms
 POLITICAL PARTIES learn more
  People's Democratic Movement (PDM)
  Progressive National Party (PNP)
  Progressive Democratic Alliance (PDA)
  Independent Candidates (IND)
 PARTY MANIFESTOS learn more
Download PDA 2016 Manifesto
Download PDM 2016 Manifesto
Download PNP 2016 Manifesto
 POPULAR RESOURCES learn more
Download TCI Knowledge Centre
Learn more TCI Heads of Government
Download TCI Budget Statement 2017
 ABOUT CARIBBEAN ELECTIONS learn more
Caribbean Elections
Caribbean Elections provides comprehensive information on the electoral process, politics, and citizenship in the Caribbean. The portal includes election data and resources for the public, teachers, students, and researchers.
Learn more about CE»
Visit KnowledgeWalk Institute © 2008-2016 Knowledgewalk Institute. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Statement | Terms of Use  | Advertise With Us | About Us | Contact Us