A more efficiently run General Election is anticipated following the passage of the Elections (Amendment) Act, 2019.
His Excellency the Governor Augustus J. U. Jaspert assented to the Elections (Amendment) Act, 2019 on Tuesday, January 29 bringing it into force on the said date. The Act was passed in the House of Assembly on Tuesday, January 22 and gazetted on Thursday, January 31.
Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Deputy Governor, Mrs. Carolyn Stoutt Igwe, while highlighting some of the amendments, said that new measures have been introduced to improve the efficiency of the elections process.
One of the major provisions, she said, is the use of the electronic tabulating system to cast, scan and tabulate ballots. “With the use of the electronic tabulating system, the election results are likely to be released in a timelier manner than previous elections,” Mrs. Stoutt Igwe added.
Provision is made for the system’s testing not more than ten days prior to Election Day. The testing will be open to representatives of political parties, members of the press and the public to assist in developing public confidence and trust in the system.
Another improvement is the use of e-poll books which will eliminate the laborious task of Poll Clerks manually recording the names and details of voters throughout polling day.
Schedule 3 of the Act also states that political parties and candidates will be governed by ‘A Code of Conduct’. The fee for nominating candidates has also been increased from $500.00 to $1,000.00.
Mrs. Stoutt Igwe said political parties will now be allowed three agents at a polling station, two of whom will be allowed to remain in the polling station at any given time. Independent candidates will be allowed two agents, only one of whom may remain in the polling station at any given time.
On entering the polling station, voters will be required to present their voter identification card or Government issued identification to the poll clerk. Voters are urged to obtain their voter identification cards as they will help to expedite the voting process with the e-poll books.
The Elections amendment makes new provisions for Advance polls which can now be held four days before polling day. Additionally, persons on remand and persons traveling in advance of the date of the general elections can vote at advance poll. Persons traveling are required to provide a copy of their ticket to the Supervisor of Elections with their application.
The Act also includes a definition of by-elections and stipulates when such elections will be held.
Mrs. Stoutt Igwe is encouraging persons to exercise patience as the Office of the Supervisor of Elections continues to work in preparing for the upcoming General Elections. She added that the Supervisor and her team are committed to adhering to the provisions of the Elections Act and are putting the necessary measures in place to ensure free and fair elections.
The Office of the Supervisor of Elections is a member of the Governor's Group and a unit that functions under the umbrella of the Office of the Deputy Governor.
Photograph attached: Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Deputy Governor
Mrs. Carolyn Stoutt Igwe (Photo Credit: GIS)