Thursday, November 19, 2009

Elections - 2. Registering to Vote

Revised 27 March 2015
2. REGISTERING TO VOTE
I have been asked the question, “I am an Anguillian.  General elections are around the corner.  How do I get registered to vote?”  The procedure for getting on the list of voters in Anguilla is governed by the Elections Act and the Elections Regulations.  The question of who is qualified to vote and who is not qualified to vote is governed by the Constitution of Anguilla 1982.  We looked last week at the question of who is entitled to be on the voters' list.  Today, we are going to look at the procedure for getting on the list.  Next week, we shall look at the procedure for objecting to someone who you believe is fraudulently on the list.
The Act and the Regulations were amended during the year 2008.  The revised versions of the Act and the Regulations were published recently, on 2 November 2009.  Those of you who have been relying on the old Act and Regulations need to replace them as soon as possible, because they are out of date and will mislead you.
Sections 11 to 17 of the Act deal with the preparation of the lists of voters.  The 'list of voters' can be the 'first list of voters', or the 'quarterly list of voters' or the 'preliminary list of voters', or the 'official list of voters', or the 'register of voters', as the context or the law requires.  What we want to do is to get onto the 'register of voters' which will be the guiding list at the Polling Station on elections day.  Once we get onto the first list of voters, or a quarterly list of voters after that, we should be okay.
Prior to the year 2008, if we were qualified, and were missing from the list of voters, we could only get added once a year, during a specific period, to the list of voters.  Now, as a result of an amendment to the Elections Act made in the year 2008, we have had continuous registration of voters.  We can apply to be put on the list at any time in the year, once we are qualified.
Since 1 January 2009, quarterly lists of persons who claim to be qualified voters have been prepared and published, and after a due period for any objection to be made, the quarterly list of voters has been published.
Section 12 of the Act, and Regulation 10 of the Regulations, provide for persons qualified to vote, or who would become qualified during the next quarter to apply to the Electoral Registration Officer, to be registered as a voter in his or her Electoral District.
Continuous registration
12. After the enumeration year—
(a) there shall be continuous registration of all persons qualified to be registered as voters under this Act; and
(b) when a person is qualified or will be qualified on the next qualifying date to be registered as a voter in an Electoral District, that person may apply to the Electoral Registration Officer to be registered as a voter in that Electoral District in accordance with this Act and the regulations.
The process of taking applications to be added to the list of voters never ceases.
Section 13 of the Act, and Regulation 13 of the Regulations, set out the law and procedure that govern the preparation of the quarterly lists:
Quarterly lists
13. (I) After the enumeration year, the Electoral Registration Officer shall, not later than the 40th day of every quarter in every succeeding year, prepare a quarterly list of voters for every Electoral District which shall consist of—
(a) persons whose names do not appear on the register of voters or any revised quarterly list for any Electoral District and who have applied to be registered as voters for an Electoral District and who the Electoral Registration Officer has reasonable cause to believe are qualified or will be qualified, on the next qualifying date, to be registered ' as voters in that Electoral District;
(b) persons whose names appear on the register of voters for an Electoral District and who have notified the Electoral Registration Officer of a change in their name, address or occupation but who remain qualified to be registered as voters in that Electoral District; and
(c) persons whose names appear on the register of voters for an Electoral District and who have satisfied the Electoral Registration Officer that they have changed address and are ordinarily resident in another Electoral District.
(2) A person who is qualified to be registered as a voter but whose name does not appear on the register of voters for an Electoral District shall be entitled to be registered on the quarterly list of voters prepared in accordance with subsection (1), upon making application in accordance with this Act and the regulations.
(3) The quarterly lists of voters for every Electoral District shall be revised and published in accordance with the regulations and shall be used to revise the register of voters for that Electoral District in accordance with section 14.
Not later than the 40th day of every quarter, the Electoral Registration Officer is required to prepare a quarterly list of voters for every Electoral District.  This list consists of (a) persons whose names do not appear on the register of voters or any revised quarterly list for any district and who have applied to be registered as voters; and (b) voters who have changed their name, address or occupation but who are qualified to remain registered in that Electoral District; and (c) persons who have changed address and have satisfied the Electoral Registration Officer that they are 'ordinarily resident' in another Electoral District.
A person who is qualified to be registered as a voter, but whose name does not appear on the register of voters for an Electoral District, is entitled to be registered on the quarterly list of voters upon making application on the correct form.
The quarterly lists for every Electoral District are revised and published in accordance with the Regulations, and are used to revise the register of voters for that Electoral District.
Section 14 sets out how the registers are to be prepared every quarter.  Regulation 14 requires that, not later than the 72nd day of every quarter of every succeeding year, the Electoral Registration Officer shall prepare and publish a Preliminary List of Voters for every Electoral District.  These Preliminary Lists, once certified, constitute the register of voters for each Electoral District. 
The Regulations set out the procedure for preparing the Preliminary Lists.  By Regulation 21, the enumerators complete the Preliminary Lists not later than 10 days after the last day of the enumeration period.
The enumerators are required to certify the preliminary lists and to the Registration Officer by a specific date. 
The Registration Officer then prepares 4 printed copies of each list and has them checked by the respective enumerators and certified again.
The Registration Officer then distributes 2 copies of the Certified Preliminary List to each enumerator, sending one copy to the Supervisor of Elections, and keeping the fourth copy for himself or herself.
By a specified number of days after the enumeration period, the enumerator for each Polling Division affixes a certified copy of the preliminary list to 2 buildings in his or her Polling Division.
Section 15 of the Act and Regulation 15 provide that all claims for registration, and all objections to registration, are to be determined by the Registration Officer or Electoral Registration Officer in accordance with the Elections Regulations.
Regulation 27 provides for continuous registration of voters.  After the enumeration year, any person who is qualified to be on the list but who is not registered for the particular Electoral District, may appear in person at the Central Electoral Office and submit an application to be registered.  Similar applications can be made to correct errors in the list.  The Regulation gives the Electoral Registration Officer the power to make inquiries to determine whether the applicant is qualified.
Continuous registration of voters
27.    (1) After the enumeration year, a person—
(a) who is qualified or will be qualified on the next qualifying date to be registered as a voter in an Electoral District and who is not registered on the existing register of voters for that Electoral District:
(b) whose name appears on the existing register of voters for an Electoral District and who has changed his name, address or occupation but who remains qualified to be registered as a voter in that Electoral District; or
(c) whose name appears on the existing register of voters for an Electoral District and who has changed address and is ordinarily resident in an Electoral District other than the one in which he is registered:
may appear in person at the Central Electoral Office and submit to the Electoral Registration Officer an application in Form 9 to be registered on the quarterly list of voters for the relevant Electoral District.
(2) The Electoral Registration Officer may make Inquiries and request and review documents that he considers necessary to determine whether on the next qualifying dale the person referred to in subsection (1) is qualified or will be qualified to be registered as a voter in an Electoral District.
(3) When the Electoral Registration Officer is satisfied that the person referred to in subsection (1) is qualified or will be qualified on the next qualifying date to be registered as a voter in an Electoral District, the Electoral Registration Officer shall give to the person a certificate of provisional registration in Form 12.
(4) The Electoral Registration Officer shall enter on the quarterly list of voters for the relevant Electoral District, the name, address and occupation of a person lo whom a certificate of provisional registration was given under subsection (3).
The Regulation requires that the applicant must appear in person.  No politician or their campaign assistants can fill out the forms, have the applicant in St Maarten or St Thomas sign the form, obtain a photocopy of the passport, and bring the forms in to the Central Electoral Office.  The person applying to be put on the list of voters must come in personally, allow the Electoral Registration Officer to satisfy himself that the person appearing before him, and signing the form before him, is the same person as the person in the passport.  This is not doubt meant to make it difficult, if not impossible, for electoral fraud to occur in this continuous registration procedure.
When the Electoral Registration Officer is satisfied that the person is qualified, or will be qualified on the next qualifying date to be registered as a voter, he or she shall give the applicant a certificate of provisional registration.  The name, address, and occupation of the applicant are then entered on the Quarterly List of Voters for the relevant Electoral District.
Section 16 of the Act is an important section in connection with these time lines.  The section provides a procedure to be followed, if time for anything needs to be extended, or if there was any error or irregularity in matter of form that needs to be validated.  The Governor in Council is empowered to make a Regulation extending the time or validating the irregularity.  However, the Regulation does not take effect until it is approved by a resolution of the House of Assembly.
So, in conclusion, whenever the Chief Minister calls elections in any particular year, the Register of Roters will be the previous List of Voters, plus those who applied to be listed, and were entered on a preliminary list, and which lists were duly certified and published.