With four months to go before the May polls, the Elections Act 2021 has been published, with Elections Supervisor Wesley Howell stressing that the legislation does not contain any policy changes or modifications.

The act, which was gazetted last week, Howell explained, was merely an administrative amalgamation of the previously passed amendments to the original legislation, which Law Revision Commissioner Dr. Camille Stoll-Davey and her team compiled for ease of reference.

“It does help us make easier references to particular sections of the act without having to have to reinterpret what they mean and change words ourselves,” he said.

Elections Supervisor Wesley Howell. – Photo: Alvaro Serey

Any policy changes to the law, he said, would have to be done by Cabinet and then taken before Parliament. The public, he added, would also be made aware of any changes.

“There’s nothing new that required Cabinet approval or an act of the Parliament in order to make any changes there. So it remains just an administrative update, usually it’s done to consolidate or to bring an act up to standard in that relation,” he explained.

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Howell, speaking on the publication of the law Tuesday, said, the newly gazetted legislation was renamed Elections Act from Elections Law and references to the Legislative Assembly replaced with Parliament to reflect the constitutional changes approved last year.

“One of the forms that gives the permission for somebody to register an individual [has] been updated to reflect civil partnerships, as opposed to just marriage. We’ve also had changes to one of the forms in relation to bringing it in alignment with the qualifications that were in the Constitution in relation to who can vote and what the qualifications are for voting,” he added.

Howell said he is still optimistic proposed changes to the Elections Act, to assist his team with safely managing voting in line with COVID protocols, will make it to the Parliament before it is dissolved for the 26 May polls.

If the changes are not approved in time, however, Howell said that elections staff will still be able to adjust the number of polling stations as well as reduce the amount of “people congregating in particular areas” as required by COVID-suppression regulations.

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