Published On: Tue, Jan 16th, 2018


Hilbert Haar - foto Milton Pietersby Hilbert Haar

Holding elections is a seemingly simple affair. You establish a party, if you have them you put the maximum of 23 candidates on your list and you are good to go. But during every election we see parties stumble over simple rules. The Central Voting Bureau kindly describes these mistakes as discrepancies.

Shocking they are not, most of those discrepancies, though eyebrows ought to go up when a party forgets to submit the decree that confirms its proper registration with the Electoral Council. That prize went this time to the St. Maarten Development Movement and to a party that has been in this game for much longer, the United St. Maarten party.

It’s not even a fatal mistake, because the Central Voting Bureau checks all the paperwork, a bit like a teacher would look over the test of a high school kid. In high school you miss out on brownie points for your mistakes, but in politics you get three days to correct them.

Nobody got hurt; right?

But on closer examination, these slip ups – varying from mixed up initials, wrong dates of birth, wrong addresses and in one case even the wrong abbreviation of the party (USp – how do you do that?) – ought to be a warning sign. In a way, they hint at how precise and how accurate the people behind the name of a party are.

Back in the Netherlands, when I had an independent text production bureau, I placed a small ad in a national newspaper, inviting freelance writers nationwide to hook up with me to create a nationwide network. When you live near Amsterdam it is more effective to let a job in Maastricht do by a guy who lives there, than to travel all the way down and do it yourself. Or so I thought.

I received 120 letters. What do you do with such a mountain of mail? Well, I looked not at what the applicants thought they were capable of, but at how much attention they had paid to writing their letter. The tsunami of sloppiness I found in this correspondence was astounding and I soon found that working with these people was not worth my time.

The United Democrats seem to have all the details under control – and they are the only one among the six participating parties. The Central Voting Bureau did not find a single mistake or omission in the paperwork the UD submitted. This shows attention for detail that is somehow missing with the other parties.

This is even more painful knowing that putting this paperwork together is not exactly rocket science. You just have to look at the rules and apply them.

This is therefore one issue that sets the UD apart from its political opponents. It will of course not determine the outcome of the elections, but it should give the electorate at least some reason to think about these things.

Would you trust a party that cannot get the initials of its own candidates right? A party that gets somebody’s date of birth wrong or a party that makes a mistake in the abbreviation of its own association?

Would you fly with a pilot who never trained for his job?