Elector Registration System (ERS)
The Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) has implemented the current Voter Registration System as determined by the then Electoral Advisory Committee and reported to Parliament on July 13, 1994.
The main objectives of this Elector Registration System are to:
- Provide accurate information on all eligible electors from which to compile a voters list every six months.
- To effect the enumeration of voters by continuous registration.
The basis of the new Elector Registration System is the collection of the elector’s demographic data, his/her photograph and fingerprints. Fingerprints are cross-matched to ensure that there are no multiple registrations and to put in place a system which ensures that each registered Elector has ONLY ONE opportunity to Vote (i.e., appears on the voters list ONLY ONCE). The use of fingerprints is now the centrepiece for identifying electors.
The Legislation was amended to introduce Continuous Registration and removed the previous legal obligation to carry out a full “house to house” enumeration every two years after each such enumeration.
Continuous Registration is the process whereby the Voters’ List is continually maintained by adding the names of eligible voters as well as deleting the names of those who no longer meet eligibility requirements.e.g. the dead.
This means there is no need to automatically conduct a full enumeration/registration as was the case in previous years. A voters’ list is now produced and published every six months, May 31 and November 30, with the necessary additions and deletions. There is a cut off date for registration which is two months before the publication of the voter’s list. Two of the major problems which have plagued the electoral process for many years PRIOR to this new system are:
- Multiple Registrations
- Difficulty in verifying the true identity of electors to permit voting.
In the revised registration process, two types of impressions are used in collecting fingerprints:
- Rolled impressions
- Flat impressions
Rolled impressions involve the rolling of the finger from one side to the next and are now taken individually from the Index Finger and Middle Finger of each hand. Flat impressions are taken by simultaneously fingerprinting all of the fingers on each hand and thumb without rolling.
Use of fingerprints in the Elector Registration System
During the enumeration exercise, the elector’s fingerprints are now used in the creation and storage of unique records. To detect and eliminate duplicates, the records for each individual’s fingers are now matched against those of all other persons enumerated. Persons with prints not matching anyone’s is placed on the Voters List. This ensures that each person who applies is listed only once and can only vote ONCE.
The Elector Registration System generates an Identification Card for each person on the Voters List. This card contains the unique records created for that person. Electors registered during continuous enumeration should visit a fixed registration centre to collect their ID card. Their live fingerprint will be compared to the system database. This will verify identity before the card is delivered.