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From the Supervisor of Elections – Vol II No 5: Claims and Objections; A Gender Perspective
Office of the AG
From the Supervisor of Elections
Vol II Issue No 5: Claims and Objections; A Gender Perspective
In my 4th article, I reported on activities at the Electoral Office for April to September, and referred to the 115 claims that were made during the period. In fact, for January to November 2020, there were 482 claims. I also reported that there were 1,245 objections that arose from the 2020 voter registry, i.e. the Annual Register of Voters that was published at the end of January. Those 1,245 objections resulted in the removal of 117 names.
Both claims and objections are tools used to ensure the accuracy of the Voter List.
Claims allow for self-correction of the electoral identity of a person. When a claim is made, it is to be publicized and is subject to scrutiny, just as any other voter list. Activation of the corrections takes 2 months also. A claim “freezes” the claimant where he or she is until the correction is done.
An objection, on the other hand, can result in a complete removal from the voter registry; but only if your electoral identity is inconsistent with your actuality.
Your electoral identity consists of your name, address and occupation. While the occupation is not that critical (no one objects about occupation), the name and the address are critical. Either of these components may be changed and require adjustment, especially if the Voter Card (or National Identification Card as it is called) is to be used as a form of id other than for voting purposes.
An examination of successful objections mentioned above reveals that roughly 56% of the persons removed by objections were female. Meanwhile, of the 482 claims, 340 or 71% of the claimants were women. Why? Is it that women are disadvantaged by the system? Is there more apathy amongst women towards the objection process? Are women more compliant with claims process?
Several factors come into play: a) women outnumber men in the population by 3 – 5%; and b) women outlive men by several years. Thus, consistent with these factors, there are more women voters than men voters: 53%, according to the 2018 voter registry. We haven’t analyzed the more recent data, but there is no reason to believe that there were any significant changes in later years.
But there is a third factor impacting women: that of marriage, divorce and the change of name that goes along with them. Of the 340 claims made by women that have been referenced earlier, 175 (51%) were due to name change, and mostly as a result of marriage or divorce. Of course, the more important end result of these claims, is the issuance of a corrected card, critical to claiming/maintaining/removing spousal rights as well as for voting.
Claims may seem like a minor matter in the grand scheme of things, but because claims leave you on the register as is until the correction is made, they can affect election outcomes that are decided by close margins, especially where the claim is to correct an address. Remember, we have had elections decided by as few as 4 votes.
Whatever is the motivation, we are thankful for any and all public support that assists us in making the voters list better reflect reality on the ground. As we go forward, anything that furthers our motto of one person, one vote in the right place and fairness to all is welcome. That is what we are after.
(Author’s note: I will break for the festive season, and return in January 2021)