The Daily Herald writes that the referendum held on St. Eustatius on Wednesday, December 17, to determine the future of the island drew insufficient voters to make the results binding. Of the 2,546 people eligible to vote, only 1,156 showed up, amounting to just over 45 per cent. At least 60 per cent, or 1,528 people had to have voted for the vote to be binding. Despite this, Governor Gerald Berkel, after thanking the vot- ing bureau, bringing cheers from the crowd, announced the result of the vote around 10:15pm Wednesday.
Option 3, St. Eustatius becoming an autonomous territory with- in the Dutch Kingdom, won with 747 votes.
Option 1, Maintaining the Status Quo, came second with 374 votes.
Option 4, St. Eustatius becoming an integrated part of the Netherlands,
and option 2, becoming an independent country, were less popular with 14 and five votes respectively.
There were four blank votes, 12 invalid votes and an unrelated document that was found inside the box. There were some irregularities where people claimed to have gone to the Census Office and there were no cards for them. Others were turned back at the voting bureau because they could not vote because they did not have any voting passes.
Quite a few cards had been returned by the Post Office because people had changed their addresses and non-deliveries because the people’s names were listed incorrectly. After the results were announced the persons who had supported Option 3 cheered. Honking of horns was heard as the as people drove around celebrating the outcome of the voting, despite its not being legally binding.
Voting day was a busy day for Statia. From 7:30am onwards, members of the public turned out to the Lion’s Den to vote for the option of their choice. Constitutional Affairs Commissioner Reginald Zaandam cast his vote around 8:00am, followed shortly afterward by Governor Gerald Berkel.
The flow of voters did not stop at any point during the day, although it slowed its pace at some points, before quickly picking up again. At 5:30pm, the number of votes cast was 776.
Adult residents of 18 years and older with Dutch nationality and foreign residents who have lived legally in Statia for five years or longer were eligible to vote. Voting by proxy also was possible.
In the first hour, 58 people had voted. By 3:30pm the number had gone up to 583. Many people who attended made visible through T- shirts and signs what option they supported. Supporters of the two most popular options were seen trying to convince members of the public to join their teams.
The police and security officers were present at the voting bureau, but they reported no incidents of note. Two United Nations observers were present at the voting bureau to over- see the proceedings. One was from England and the other from Mexico. Although quite a large number of Statians came out to practice their rights as citizens on the island, the total was not high enough to make the vote binding. The polls closed at 9:00pm, but many people were still present to hear the results being read out around 10:15pm