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Archive -National Assembly

Major changes to election law approved |13 December 2014

Amendments to the Elections Act (Cap 262)) based on recommendations of the Electoral Commission have been approved by the National Assembly.

The amendments, which concern numerous sections of the law relating to voter registration and the voting process, procedures for nomination of candidates, party political broadcasts (PPBs) among others, were presented by Vice-President Danny Faure in the Assembly earlier this week.

Section 5(1) of the Election Act deals with qualifications for registration as a voter. At present there is no provision for minimum age for registration. Hence section 5 of the Act is amended to include the requirement of a minimum age of 18 years for registration as a voter. This is in line with Article 114 of the Constitution.

As per sub section (1) of section 5, a person residing in an electoral area can register as a voter. A new provision is made in this section to make it clear that a citizen of Seychelles living overseas can also register as a voter by fulfilling certain conditions like having a National Identity Card and having resided for at least three months in an electoral area immediately prior to the registration.

Section 6(b) prohibits a person who is serving a prison sentence or being detained under any written law from exercising his right to vote. This prohibition as regards to a person detained (other than convicted) is removed by amending section 6(b) so that a person detained under any written law can exercise his right to vote.

As per section 8(1) the voters’ register is to be available for inspection for a notified period only. This section is amended to make available the voters’ register throughout the year for inspection except for the period when an election is declared by notice under section 13(1).  

A new provision is included to make year-round arrangements for registration of new voters, transfer of voters from one electoral area to another and to make changes in the demographic information on the voters’ register.

To make easier year-long registration, a new comprehensive provision is added for establishment of registration centres, procedures for submitting applications, claims or objections and verifications thereof, appeals and publication of voters and other related matters by way of a new Schedule 3.

Section 9 of the Act is amended to provide for publication of voters’ register on March 31 every year. In the year in which an election is held, an amended register shall be published again immediately when an election is declared. The Electoral Commission is required to provide certified copies of voters’ registers to all registered political parties.

Section 10 is amended to provide for display and inspection of the voters’ registers.

In order to ensure maximum turnout of voters in an election, a new provision is included by way of section 25A requiring the employers to provide ‘time off’ so employees can cast their vote and prohibits deduction of any sum from pay or other remuneration in lieu thereof.

Section 97 deals with the right to free broadcast by candidates and registered political parties. But at present, for this, no specific time allocation is provided in the Act. In order to bring more clarity subsection (2) has been amended prescribing allocation of broadcasting time on television and radio to political parties, candidates and lobbies in case of referendum. The term “text” in relation to a broadcast is also defined by adding subsection (8).

A new Schedule 3 is added to the Act prescribing detailed procedure for registration as voters, nomination, voting and counting.

Amendments to the election law prompted a lot of debate from the House before members of the majority party gave their approval. The leader of the opposition David Pierre, however, abstained.

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