JIS News

The House of Representatives on Tuesday (March 16) unanimously approved the recommendations of a report from the Electoral Advisory Committee (EAC) on House-to-House Re-verification and review of Constituencies and Boundaries, which, among other things, will see the maximum number of constituencies into which the country may be divided increasing from 60 to 65.
Leader of Government Business in the House and Minister of National Security, Dr. Peter Phillips who moved the motion, explained that the EAC report had recommended that in view of the fact of continuous voter registration, changes should be made to the provision that now existed in respect of the time period during which boundaries may be altered. At present, the boundaries committee is restricted to not altering any boundaries not less than four nor more than six years after the previous report.
It was also recommended that a House-to-House re-verification of the residence of electors be undertaken to verify the residences of the persons who are on the electoral list.
Thanking members of the EAC, past and present, for the service that they had provided for the country, Dr. Phillips stated, “the fact is that the EAC since its inception and this present committee, have served the country well and removed questions of electoral administration from the domain of partisan contention”.
Dr. Phillips informed that in discussions earlier this week, Prime Minister P.J. Patterson and Opposition Leader, Edward Seaga had agreed that the number of constituency seats should be increased from 60 to 65, and that in fact, as a first movement, the constituencies would be moved from 60 to 63.
In addition, he said, Messrs Patterson and Seaga had agreed that there were changes that should be made to the provision in the Constitution as to the period within which boundaries should be adjusted and that this should be done expeditiously.
Some of the recommendations, which require constitutional change apart from those regarding boundaries and re-verification, have been referred to a special committee. Dr. Phillips noted that this was more desirable than dealing with the matter in the form of a Bill as this method “allows us to preserve the original understandings and the operations of the conventions which have governed the EAC. It allows us to observe the letter as well as the spirit of the law”.
Steps necessary to give effect to the recommendations regarding boundaries and re-verification would proceed immediately, Dr. Phillips informed.

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