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Organisation : Guyana Elections Commission
Facility : Know your Polling Station
Country : Guyana
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Constitutional and other legislative provisions. :
** The legal framework for the conduct of General and Regional Elections in Guyana is based principally on article 161 of the Constitution of Guyana., the National Registration Act (1967), the Representation of the People Act (1964), the Local Democratic Organs Act (1980) the National Assembly (Validity of Elections) Act (1964) and the Elections Laws (Amendment) Act (2000) which have all been amended over the years.
** The Representation of the People Act (1964) deals with all aspects of the conduct of elections and the National Registration Act Chapter 19:08 deals mainly with the preparation and revision of electoral rolls.
** The current electoral system is the product of cross party agreement on constitutional reform as catered for by the Herdmanston Accord.
** This witnessed the relevant parties agreeing to a system called the Largest Remainder Hare (L-R Hare) system which included “an element of geographic and gender representation”.
** Previously only 53 of the 65 members of the National Assembly were elected directly while the remaining twelve were indirectly elected from the Regional and National Council of Local Demographic Organs.
** Under the current system, which was adopted after the amendment of the Constitution (See Constitution (Amendment) (No. 3) Act 2000 and Election Laws (Amendment) Act No. 15, 2000) and the Representation of the People Act in November, 2000, all members of the National Assembly are to be directly elected.
** Twenty five (25) members are elected from the ten (10) geographic constituencies and the remaining forty (40) elected from a national “top-up” list to guarantee a high degree of proportionality.
** Any Party contesting seats for the National Assembly must contest in six (6) of the ten (10) geographic constituencies and validly nominate candidates for thirteen (13) of the twenty five (25) constituency seats.
** Furthermore a third of the candidates validly nominated on a party’s geographical lists must be women.
** In a maximum of two (2) of its geographical constituency lists a party may not name any females.
** In February 2001, conscious of the need to ensure the constitutional requirement for proportionality, the National Assembly further amended the Constitution (Constitution (Amendment) (No. 1) Act 2001 and the Representation of the People Act (Representation of the People (Amendment) Act 2001) to allow the National Assembly to have at least sixty five (65) members and to allow GECOM to allocate “overhang seats” if required.
** Overhang seats would be required if a Party wins a disproportional number of constituency seats thereby giving it an advantage over other parties.
** Under these circumstances GECOM would award overhang seats to the national top up to ensure that the advantage is removed.
The National Registration Act Cap 19:08 :
This Act lays down in substantial detail the means by which changes can be made to the voters list. It envisages periodic enumeration of electors and a period of claims and objections prior to an election. Any consequent changes to the Preliminary Voters List need to be incorporated into a Revised Voters List, which is open to the scrutiny of the public for a period of twenty one (21) days. Once amended, the Official List of Electors is produced by GECOM. The latest and most significant change to the Act was made by virtue of Regulation No. 5 of 2002 which came about as a result of queries over the size of the Preliminary Voters List in 2000. This regulation was later incorporated into the Elections Laws (Amendment) Act 2000 and given constitutional protection through Constitutional (Amendment) No. 1 of 2001. This legislation provided GECOM with substantial powers to remove the names of persons who failed to be photographed for the National Identification Card from the voters list although such names would not have been objected to through the normal process. This change, radically altered the thrust of the original legislation, which required individuals to make objections to a person’s entry on the Preliminary Voters List and for the objector to provide proof of their objection at a hearing.
The Representation of the People Act Chapter 19:08 :
This Act makes provision for the election of members of the National Assembly under a system of Proportional Representation. Since 1964 this Act was amended at least nineteen times, the last of which was made on February 13, 2001 just prior to the dissolution of the National Assembly. The changes made include changes in the electoral system, the formation and establishment of an independent Elections Commission (GECOM), the curtailment of overseas voting, and counting at the place of poll.