Political party registration process begins in Jamaica

(Jamaica Observer) Director of Elections Orrette Fisher confirmed Thursday that the process of registration for political parties has already begun.

“We have already had requests for the packages and people have been calling the office seeking information about the process,” Fisher told the Jamaica Observer.

The Political Party Registration Bill was passed on October 14, 2014 to treat with the registration, regulation and financing of political parties. However, the registration processing did not become effective until January 2 this year.

Prior to the passage of the Political Party Registration Act, there was no requirement for political parties in Jamaica to be registered, or for their financial arrangements to be regulated.

The passage of the Bill on the registration and financing of political parties means that all political parties intending to contest the polls in elections and referenda, must be registered with the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ).

It also means that political parties which meet the criteria for State funding must have their finances monitored and regulated by the commission. Therefore, the ECJ is responsible for monitoring and enforcing the legislation relating to political party finance and registration and campaign financing.

The registrar of political parties maintains responsibilities for the registration and monitoring of political parties, in accordance with the Political Party Registration Act. The role will also include election campaign financing.

An Office of the Registrar of Political Parties, which will be a part of a unit monitoring campaign financing, is being set up in order to effectively manage these responsibilities.

In the meantime, the ECJ has also confirmed the appointment of its newest member, Senator Wensworth Skeffery, a former deputy general secretary of the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP). Skeffery replaced the veteran politician and electoral expert Dr DK Duncan, who was also a Cabinet minister and general secretary of the PNP.

Wednesday’s ECJ meeting was the first for 2018, and it looked at several issues related to the party registration and campaign financing legislations, including the question of who should sign the registration papers for the parties.

There are nine members of the ECJ. These are: Selected members — Dorothy Pine-McLarty, chairman; business executive Earl Jarrett;Professor Alvin Wint; and retired jurist, Justice Karl Harrison; four nominated members — Senator Tom Tavares-Finson, president of the Senate; Aundre Franklin of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party; General Secretary Julian Robinson and Senator Skeffery, representing the PNP; and the director of elections.

The ECJ came into being in 2006, replacing the Electoral Advisory Committee as a permanent, independent, and autonomous authority overseeing the electoral process, and answerable to the Houses of Parliament.

The day to day operations of the electoral system are handled by the Electoral Office of Jamaica, which is a Government agency established since 1943.

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