The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) is not waiting for the election date to be announced to put things in order as it already knows the general election is constitutionally due in 2020.
Bobbi Rogers, EBC communications manager, said the role of the EBC was to “manage the conduct of the election” and the process had already begun. She said the work involved was extensive,but she did not wish to divulge the inner workings of the EBC.
However, it is on public record that on May 8 the draft Elections and Boundaries order – the EBC’s recommendations for constituency and boundary changes – was debated and approved. The order recommended alterations in the boundaries of 12 constituencies.
The adjusted constituencies include Couva North, Couva South, Cumuto/Manzanilla, Laventille East/Morvant, Laventille West, Oropouche East, Oropouche West, Port-of-Spain North/St Ann’s West, Port-of-Spain South, San Fernando East, San Fernando West, and Toco/Sangre Grande.
According to the order, under section 72(1) of the Delimitation of Constituencies Rules of the Constitution, “the electorate in any constituency shall not be more than 110 per cent nor be less than 90 per cent of the total electorate of the island divided by the number of constituencies in that island.”
The EBC’s records state that the total electorate in Trinidad is 1,074,224, so the average per constituency is 27,544 and the permissible upper and lower limits are 30,298 and 24,790 respectively.
The total electorate in Tobago is 49,927 with the average per constituency at 24,964, and the permissible upper and lower limits at 27,460 and 22,468 respectively.
Changes were therefore made because Couva North and Toco/Sangre Grande fell above the permissible upper limit of electorates, while PoS North/St Ann’s West, PoS South, San Fernando West and Oropouche West fell below.
Specifically, two polling divisions were moved from Couva North to Couva South and three polling divisions were moved from Toco/Sangre Grande to Cumuto/Manzanilla.
Laventille West was affected owing to the transfer of one polling division from Laventille East/Morvant, as well as the transfer from it of one polling division to PoS North/St Ann’s West and one to PoS South. PoS North/St Ann’s West also gained two polling divisions from PoS South.
In Oropouche East, one division was transferred to Oropouche West, and two divisions in San Fernando East were transferred to San Fernando West.
Rogers noted that the publication of the annual list of electors is due on July 1.
“When the election date is announced, there is an electoral registration period. That is a specific time frame. It is a call to all persons who have changed their address or their names and they want to regularise this data with the EBC.”
This would be the basis for a revised list of electors but, she said, they were constantly revising the list as people come of age to vote and become eligible to be on the list, while others die and have to be removed from the list.
Then, after the election, in accordance with the Representation of the People Act, Election Rule 108 (5), the Chief Election Officer had to notify the Speaker of the House, in writing, of all the candidates elected.
She said, under the existing legislation there is no registration of political parties in TT. Instead, the EBC only assigns political symbols and, according to the organisation’s data, there were over 100. However she noted that the Representation Of The People (Amendment) Bill, 2020, seeks to amend Chap. 2:01 of the Representation of the People Act in order to provide for the registration of political parties and to make provision for related matters.
In addition, she said potential candidates, whether independent or affiliated with political parties, officially made their interest in contesting the election known on the close of nomination day.
With respect to voting under covid19 restrictions, she said the Chief Election Officer already presented a policy document to the board of commissioners, but no details will be provided until the board completed its deliberations. However, she stressed there will be no electronic voting or voting by mail because TT's legislation only provides for manual voting.