Fixed periods for voter registration, regular removal of dead persons from OLE
– as National Registration Amendment Bill passed
Fixed periods for voter registration, regular removal of deceased persons from the official list of electors, and cyclic issuance of national Identification Cards are among the significant amendments to the National Registration Act (NRA).
The Bill, No. 23 of 2022, was read for the second time early on Tuesday morning by Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, SC.
It was subsequently passed in the National Assembly.
Introduced to the National Assembly on November 7, it seeks to amend the National Registration Act, Cap. 19:08.
The bill seeks to strengthen and clarify the concept of a continuous registration system which is provided for by law.
It provides for continuous registration of voters to be done in two periods, during the months of January and May with the qualifying date being June 30, and during the months of July to November with the qualifying date being December 31.
The amendments to the NRA go hand-in-hand with amendments to the Representation of the People Act (ROPA), and complete the cycle of amendments being made to the electoral system.
The AG said the bill, like ROPA, contains a number of necessary amendments, which bring clarity to ambiguous sections of the law.
“What this bill seeks to do generally is to strengthen and clarify the concept of a continuous registration system which is provided for by law. There are sections within the law that can create some kind of doubt, and that is why there is an argument continuously made for house-to-house registration,” he said.
Under the amended act, references to residency and house-to-house registration are removed.
Instead, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) will be responsible for the establishment of offices in registration districts, at which registration officers will receive registration applications of eligible persons with addresses in that district.
Provision is also made for persons unable to attend registration offices due to physical incapacity. Under new subsection (4A), a registration officer, with the approval of the GECOM commissioner, may visit the address of the person to accept his or her application for registration.
New sections 8A, 8B and 8C are inserted with regards to the cancellation of registration of persons who are dead. It requires the Registrar General of Births and Deaths to send to the Commissioner once every month, a list of all persons 14 years and older whose deaths have been registered in the preceding month.
It therefore declares that the Commissioner shall cancel the registration of every person from the central and divisional registers whose names are not on the list.
Stricter penalties have also been imposed for breaches in provisions of the act.
The National Registration (Amendment) Bill 2022, coupled with the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill 2022, are in keeping with the government’s commitment to foster inclusivity and transparency in the electoral process.