With the general election just around the corner on February 25, today has been designated as Nomination Day – the designated day for the official naming or selection of candidates to contest the elections. As we know, the law requires that Nomination Day be a minimum of 16 and a maximum of 23 days before Election Day, and a minimum of five clear days after the announcement of an election. The election date was announced on January 31st – a clear nine days ago, and Election Day is a clear 25 after.
Here are some facts about Nomination Day, from the Representation of the People Act:
- Nomination of candidates must take place in a public building situated in the constituency he/she is seeking to represent, as deemed appropriate by the Electoral Office of Jamaica returning officer.
- Nominations must take place between 10am and 2pm. However, the returning officer has the power to adjourn proceedings and continue the next day (unless that day is a Sunday or public holiday) if it is interrupted by violence or civil disturbance. In such a case, anything validly done prior to the adjournment still stands, and nomination activities may continue between 10am and noon.
- To qualify as a candidate for nomination, the person must satisfy the following criteria:
- Be a citizen of Jamaica or the Commonwealth. In the case of the latter, the person must be domiciled in Jamaica for a minimum of one year.
- Be at least 21 years old.
- Be registered on the voters list.
- Be qualified, by virtue of sections 39 and 40 of the Constitution, to sit as a member of the House of Representatives. This includes not being adjudged bankrupt; not having any allegiance, obedience or adherence to a foreign power or State; not being certified as insane; not being convicted of any offence connected with the election of members of the House of Representatives.
- To be duly nominated, any person wishing to register as a candidate is required to:
- Fill out a nomination paper (form) which has been signed by any 10 or more electors registered to vote in the constituency
- Return the form to the returning officer between the stipulated hours (10am – 2pm)
- Pay the nomination fee of J$3,000
- A duly nominated candidate may withdraw at any time not less than 168 hours before the opening of the poll on Election Day. To do so, he/she must file a declaration with the returning officer, which must bear his/her signature along with those of two qualified electors in the constituency. Of course, come Election Day, any votes cast for the candidate is null and void.
- If a candidate withdraws after nomination, the returning officer must notify the presiding officer in his/her constituency beforehand. On Election Day, a public notice of the withdrawal must be prominently displayed in the polling station.
- If only one candidate is nominated, or if a withdrawal leaves only one candidate, the returning officer shall return as duly elected the candidate so remaining without waiting for Election Day.
- In the event of the death of a nominated candidate, the Act stipulates that the returning officer, after communicating with the Chief Electoral Officer, must adjourn polling for that constituency and allow for new nominations. The same rules as above apply. Polling must take place within one month of the day originally fixed for the election.