Measures underway to ensure fair, transparent elections
─ as gov’t tables National Registration (Amendment) Bill 2022
The government continues to implement legislative efforts to prevent a repeat of the March 2, 2020, General and Regional elections debacle with the tabling of the National Registration (Amendment) Bill 2022.
The bill was introduced to the National Assembly on Monday, by the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, SC. It seeks to amend the National Registration Act, Cap. 19:08.
The bill provides for continuous registration 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.
It also modifies the definition of “qualifying date” to refer to the date on which a person shall be registered.
Additionally, in cases where an individual is unable to register in person due to physical incapacity, the Amendment bill allows the registration officer, with the approval of the Commissioner, to visit the address of the individual and accept his/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. Therefore, it declares that the Commissioner shall cancel the registration of every person from the central and divisional registers whose names are not on the list.
The newly inserted sections facilitate the removal of references to residency and house-to-house registration.
It also imposes stricter penalties for breaches in its provisions and provides for additional offences about identification cards.
Persons who commit the offence of failing to provide the Commissioner or any authorized officer with certain information will have to pay a fine of $100,000.
The current law requires a fine of $16, 250 for this offence.
Furthermore, the bill proposes the creation of an offence as it relates to the submission of false information for registration, which stipulates a fine of $500,000 and imprisonment for five years.
The National Registration (Amendment) Bill 2022 is coupled with the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill and is in keeping with the government’s commitment to foster inclusivity and transparency in the electoral process.