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ECJ proposes huge nomination fee increase

Published:Thursday | October 1, 2015 | 1:22 PM

If you are planning to contest a parliamentary seat in an upcoming general election, brace yourself for a 233 per cent increase in the nomination fee being proposed by the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ).

Among a set of legal reforms being proposed by the ECJ is for the nomination fee to jump from $3,000 to $10,000.

"The best practice that has existed, and which has been followed over many years, is that whenever there is an increase in the election expenses, that is, the amount that the candidates are allowed to spend, there is a correlating percentage increase in the nomination deposit," the ECJ said in a report to Parliament.

Parliament in 2011 amended the Representation of the People Act to increase the total amount allowed for election expenditure from $3 million to $10 million.

The ECJ said there ought to be a corresponding increase in the nomination deposit.

2,000 per cent increase

The ECJ noted that prior to the general election of 1997, the maximum election expenditure permitted under the act was $100,000 while the deposit was $1,000.

An amendment in 1997 saw an increase in the limit on expenditure from $100,000 to $3 million - a 2,000 per cent increase.

The nomination deposit moved 200 per cent to $3,000.

Under election laws, the deposited money is returned if the candidate is elected or polled not less than one-eighth of the total number of votes cast at the election, or died before the close of the poll on polling day.

The ECJ is proposing to remove from the law, the prohibition that bars donkey carts from being used to transport people into constituencies for the purpose of supporting or opposing the candidature of any individual.

At present, the law prohibits the use of any motor vehicle or any animal-drawn vehicle from being used within three hours of the appointed time for the opening of the poll and one hour after the closing.

The ECJ said "animal-drawn vehicle" is an archaic term which should be removed.