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Electoral register revamped ahead of general election

Electoral register revamped ahead of general election

The system for registering to vote in elections in Gibraltar has been updated and modernised ahead of the next general election with a view to enfranchising as many people as possible.

The new open register of electors replaces the old ‘closed’ register, Paul Martinez, Electoral Registration Officer, explained as he launched the 2019 canvas for the register of electors yesterday.

“We’re trying to make things easier for people by setting up an e-register,” Mr Martinez said explaining that people will be able to register and amend their particulars online.

All residents will need to re-register for the 2019 election and should receive their canvas forms during the course of this week.

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This form can be filled out either physically or online at www.parliament.gi

Additionally, all households in Gibraltar will receive a flyer setting out how the new system will work.

Highlighting the differences between the new register and previous ones, Mr Martinez said: “We are moving from a closed register where a register was published every four years and it was set in stone because you couldn’t change any particulars during the course of those four years.”

“This is now what we call a living document, it is an open register,” he said.

“The register remains open all the time and it just closes five days before an election.”

Following an initial canvas, the new register will be published in June 2019.

However, unlike on other occasions, the register will continue to be open until five days before a general election when it is then closed and published.

This means that the narrow window for voter registration between the publication of a draft register and the publication of the full register is eliminated.

The new register would continue to be open. This would allow more time for people to register, to change their details if for example they have moved house, or for the removal of electors who may have passed away in the interim.

“So really people have no excuse not to be able to register themselves to vote,” Mr Martinez said.

Additionally, the register for elections to the Gibraltar Parliament includes provision for persons to vote by proxy.

In order to register as a proxy, a voter must be 18 years old or over and be included in the register. A proxy can vote only for two voters as well as immediate family.

“The good thing about proxy as well is we are including a facility which is called an emergency proxy vote,” Mr Martinez said adding: “We’re trying to enfranchise as many people as possible to vote.”

Once this canvas is completed and the register is published in June, individual voter registration will commence.

Mirroring UK practice, a form will no longer be sent to a household for the ‘head’ of the household to register all occupants.

It will be up to each individual person within that household to ensure that they are on the register and that their particulars on that register are correct, Mr Martinez explained.

Pic by Johnny Bugeja

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