Assembly votes for polling stations in special circumstances |14 October 2015
The National Assembly yesterday voted to approve an amendment to the Election Act which gives the Electoral Commission power to allow the electoral officer to set up polling stations in special circumstances.
Members voted unanimously to approve the amendment following debates on the Elections (Amendment) (No 2) Bill. The debate came after the members approved waiving the seven day notice required between the first and second reading before the House carries out such debates.
This was possible through a motion tabled by the leader of government business Marie-Antoinette Rose and unanimously approved by all members. As per the amendments to the Election Act, the Electoral Commission will get additional powers to set up special polling stations.
In his presentation on the Bill, Vice-President Danny Faure said the Election Act as it stands now provides for the electoral officer to put in place facilities for voters as per well defined criteria stipulated by the law. For instance for voters registered to vote on Praslin and the inner islands but who find themselves on Mahé on polling day and vice versa, for elderly citizens at the North East Point Hospital and the North East Point Home for the Elderly and for people on duty in essential services on polling day.
Vice-President Faure said the new amendment which follows a recommendation from the Electoral Commission is seeking through the Bill to give the electoral officer the power to put in place voting facilities for voters in other special circumstances which would have been considered appropriate by the chief electoral officer.
Three members presented arguments following the presentation made by VP Faure. Sebastien Pillay, member of the majority party, pointed out that Seychelles’ electoral system has evolved over the years and we are adopting procedures which are stronger and more dynamic to allow the country to respond to the demands it is facing today.
He described the amendment as important which also shows that we have reached a level of maturity which allows us to consider important and essential elements which will strengthen our electoral framework.
The leader of the opposition in the National Assembly David Pierre said the amendment though simple is very important and should have been considered with the amendment tabled the week before which declared Ile Perseverance the 26th electoral area.
Mr Pierre expressed the hope that amendment will not give a carte blanche for the opening of special polling stations left, right and centre in the country where there could be abuse.
For the leader of the government business Marie-Antoinette Rose the amendment supports a recommendation of the Electoral Commission and she reminded fellow parliamentarians that their role is to as much as possible approve or not approve legislations but they should always ensure that they represent their electorate.
She noted that the amendment will have a direct impact on one of their most fundamental rights which is the right to vote and we should use the power given to us by our electorate to support the recommendation of the Electoral Commission.
In his right of reply VP Faure reminded parliamentarians that the amendment seeks to establish clear regulations and guidelines to give the Electoral Commission the power to allow the electoral officer to put in place special polling stations.
“But today I cannot say where and the provision does not state where except that it would be in special circumstances to be considered appropriate,” Vice- President Faure said.