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Elections in Guyana

Introduction
Election of Members of the National Assembly
Qualification for Voting
Times for Elections under Article 60(2)
Supervision of Elections
Electoral System
Electoral Laws and System
Preparation of the List of Electors
National ID Card - Production and Distribution
Electoral Districts
Logistics and Communications
Recruitment and Training of Polling Day Staff
Contesting Parties and List of Candidates
Voter Education and Public Awarenewss
Balloting By Disciplined Forces and Non-resident electors. Casting of Disciplined and Non resident Ballots
Preparation for Polling Day Activities
Elections Observers
The system for General Elections in 2001
Seats in the National Assembly
Local Government Elections
Past Results

Introduction

Election of Members of the National Assembly
Article 60 (1) of the Constitution prescribes that “Election of members of the National Assembly shall be secret ballot. Article 60 (2) prescribes that “subject to the provisions of article 160(2), such number of members of the National Assembly as determined by the Assembly, shall be elected in accordance with the system of proportional representation as prescribed by article 160(1).

Qualification for Voting
Subject to the provisions of article 159 of the Constitution, every person may vote at election if he/she is of the age of eighteen years or upwards and is either a citizen of Guyana or a Commonwealth citizen domiciled and resident in Guyana.

Times for Elections Article 60(2)
Article 61 of the Constitution prescribes that an election of members of the National Assembly under Article 60(2) of the Constitution shall be held on such day within three months after every dissolution of Parliament, as the President shall appoint by proclamation.

Supervision of Elections
Article 62 of the Constitution prescribes that Elections shall be independently supervised by the Elections Commission in accordance with the provisions of paragraphs (2) and (3) of Article 160.

Electoral System
Elections are conducted according to the Constitutional provisions which are supplemented by the laws made by Parliament. The major laws among those are the Representation of the People Act (1964) which deals with all aspects of the conduct of elections and the National Registration Act (1967) which 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 reformed system which includes 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.

Under the current system which was adopted after the amending of the Constitution and the Representation of the People Act {Constitution (Amendment) Act No 3 of 2000 and Election Laws (Amendment) Act No. 15, 2000} in November, 2000, all members of the National Assembly are to be directly elected. Twenty five (25) to be elected from the ten (10) geographic constituencies and the remaining forty (40) elected from a national “top-up" list to guarantee a very high degree of proportionality. Any party contesting seats for the National Assembly must validly nominate candidates in six (6) of the geographic constituencies or for thirteen (13) of the twenty five (25) constituency seats. Furthermore, a third of the candidates validly nominated must be women.

On February 13, 2001, conscious of the need to ensure the constitutional requirement for proportionality, the National Assembly further amended the Representation of the People Act, Constitution (Amendment) Act No. 1, 2001 and Representation of the People (Amendment) Act 2001 to allow the National Assembly to have at least sixty five (65) members and 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 system for General Elections in 2001
The system for the 2001 General Elections was derived from the report of the Constitution Reform Commission, and from the laws subsequently passed to amend appropriately the enabling legislation. The Electoral System used for the General Elections held in 2001 had the following characteristics:

Seats in the National Assembly
Total Number of Elected Members (Seats) in National Assembly - 65

Total Number of Geographic Constituencies – 10 (The Geographic Constituencies were the same as the current Regions/Districts)

Total Number of Seats in the National Assembly deriving directly from the Geographic Constituencies – 25

Distribution of seats to be contested in each Geographic Constituency:

Region
Seats
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
TOT
2
2
3
7
2
3
2
1
1
2
25

The National Assembly would therefore comprise 25 members elected directly from Geographic Constituencies, and 40 members drawn from National “Top–up” Lists.

Electoral Formulae (All Voting will be on the basis of the Party List System)
The Electoral Formula to be used within geographic Constituencies to determine allocation of seats from Geographic Constituencies to Parties in the National Assembly – Largest Remainder – Hare Quota (LR-Hare)

Electoral Formula to be used to determine allocation of Non-Geographic Seats to Parties in the National Assembly – Top-up based on overall application of LR-Hare

N.B A single vote is to be cast by each voter; and a vote for a Party’s Geographical Constituency List is simultaneously a vote for that Party’s National Top-up List. Accordingly, if a Party chose not to contest in a Geographical Constituency, it could not receive any votes from electors in that Geographical Constituency that would count towards its level of national support.

Characteristics that Party Lists must Satisfy
Each contesting Party must supply a “National” List, separate and distinct from Geographical Constituency Lists, taking account of section 2.3.8.

Ordering criteria for candidates that should apply to “National” Lists – Free Choice by Parties

Each Party contesting in a Geographic Constituency must supply a Party List applicable to that Geographic Constituency, and the size of that Party List shall be: Number of Seats relative to the Geographic Constituency + 2. Accordingly, the Party List sizes for the 10 Geographic Constituencies were as follows:

Region
Seats
List
Size
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
TOT
2
2
3
7
2
3
2
1
1
2
25
2+2
2+2
3+2
7+2
2+2
3+2
2+2
1+2
1+2
2+2
25+20
=4
=4
=5
=9
=4
=5
=4
=3
=3
=4
=45

For each Party, the minimum size of “National” Lists, not counting possible duplications that may be allowed by section 2.3.8, was: Number of Top-up Seats + 2 (i.e. 40+2 = 42).

Ordering criteria for candidates that should apply to Geographic Constituency Lists – Free Choice by Parties.

Minimum Criteria that contesting Parties were required to satisfy, including those with respect to the number of seats (Geographic & “National”) a Party must contest, to be a legitimate contestant – All of:

(a) Must present National Top-up List with identified Presidential Candidate;

(b) Must be contesting at least 50% of Geographically determined seats (i.e at least 13);

(c) Must contest in at least 6 of the 10 Geographic Constituencies.

Gender minimum criteria for each of Geographical & “National” Party Lists:

(a) Total number of females on each contesting Party’s National Top-up List must be at least one-third of that List;

(b) Total number of Females on any Party’s Lists for Geographic Constituencies, taken together, must be at least one-third of the total of the Lists, taken together, for the Constituencies in which that Party is contesting; and

(c) There must be no more than 20% of the number of Constituencies in which a Party is contesting for which the Party’s Geographic Constituency List contains no female.

Rules re Duplication of Candidates on Geographical & “National” Lists: Can duplicate subject to the rule that a candidate can appear on only one Geographic List and also on the National top-up List of a Party, but if the candidate is allocated a seat based on the results in a Geographic Constituency, that candidate cannot also be extracted from the National List, and vice versa.

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. [See Constitution (Amendment) Act No. 14 of 2000 and Election Laws (Amendment) Act No. 15 of 2000.]

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.

The National Assembly (Validity of Elections) Act (1964)
The Elections (Amendment) Act No. 15 of 2000

 

 

 

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