The procedure for the annual compilation of the register of electors is laid down in our legislation viz. the Constitution and the Representation of the People Act which stipulate the prescribed age (18 years) and residence qualifications of electors as well as the relevant qualifying date.
For electoral purposes the island is zoned into constituencies which are under the responsibility of ten Registration Officers. These constituencies are subdivided into Registration Areas with their respective Registers and Polling Stations. Each Registration Area is further subdivided into canvass areas, each of which is assigned to a “canvasser”. The latter works under the supervision of other senior field staff all of whom are civil servants and who are selected, appointed and trained for the job.
A house-to-house enquiry is carried out by the “canvassers” during afternoons and week-ends under the supervision of our officers in January* every year. Each householder is called upon to complete a return as prescribed by law (Form B), whilst newly qualified electors have to fill in a declaration of qualification (Form C).
Failure to fill form B is an offence and the penalty is a fine not exceeding 500 rupees.
Though production of the National Identity Card during the house to house enquiry is not mandatory, nevertheless, around 95% of the electorate have, at the time of registration, produced theirs – hence ensuring the accuracy of data collected.
Thereafter provisional registers are compiled by the 31st March*.
The provisional registers of electors (electors’ lists) are then made available for consultation to members of the public during a fortnight as from the 1st April* in various registration centres (schools, village halls, Community/Social Welfare centres, etc) after office hours on week days and Saturdays. Remote areas are attended to by mobile units. This enables further collection of data where members of the public (“claimants”) may either apply for registration of their names, if the latter do not appear in the relevant electors’ lists or apply for corrections to entries concerning them.
Public officers serving in embassies abroad and members of their household fill in appropriate forms which are transmitted to our office through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by 15 April*.
Thereafter a list of “claimants” is published on or before 30 April*.
The computerised system of the office enables the generation of a list of duplicate or multiple entries in the electors lists’ and appropriate action is taken by the Registration Officers by way of objection sittings.
Objections regarding entries in the electors’ lists or the lists of “claimants” can be made to the Registration Officer and the latter may also object, ex officio, to entries in the said lists within the prescribed time limit.
Objection sittings are held on or before 15 June* each year, after giving appropriate notice to the persons whose names are objected to. The registers of electors are then finalized after taking into account the lists of eligible voters abroad, deceased and emigrated persons obtained from the relevant authorities. The registers are then published and come into force on the 16 August* of each year.
It is to be noted that since the year 2000, electronically recorded copies of the registers on CD Roms are being produced.
* These dates can be varied following an order made by the Electoral Supervisory Commission after a request from the Electoral Commissioner.