Commonwealth consultant comments on electoral reform process


Mr Simpson

The forum is made up of the five-member Electoral Commission and all registered political parties.

Earl Simpson, who is deputy director of elections in Jamaica and who was initially sent here for three months, ended up spending six months after the electoral reform discussions had to be delayed because of the Anse Aux Pins by-election.

The forum has conducted its last session for this year, after completing the entire Electoral Act, with the exception of the chapter on campaign financing.

Mr Simpson said it is believed the Electoral Commission is seeking to have it repealed and replaced by a “new campaign finance section”.

In September, the forum completed discussions on the Public Order Act, which dates back to the colonial era and suggested it be replaced by the Public Assembly Act.

The commission presented the recommendations to the President of the Republic James Michel and this is presently being drafted into legislation by the Attorney General’s office.

Mr Simpson said initially, the forum was just a “talk show” by some delegates on many side issues, with hardly any relevance on electoral legislation.  “There were nothing serious and a lot of time wasted,” he said until after the Anse Aux Pins by-election in mid-July when it became more focused.

He said that electoral legislation covered so far include nomination day and requirements for nomination as a candidate.

On the “cooling off period” Mr Simpson said this is not covered by the Electoral Act, though there is consensus that active campaigning, such as rallies and campaign broadcasts end within 24 hours of  the start of polling.

According to Mr Simpson, though the National Assembly has the power to amend legislation, should there be concerns about any electoral reforms, these should be referred back to the Electoral Commission for further debate.