Who is Eligible to Vote?
- A citizen of Trinidad and Tobago who is 18 years of age or older and has resided in an electoral district/constituency for at least two months prior to the Qualifying Date.
- A Commonwealth citizen, 18 years of age or older, who has resided legally in Trinidad and Tobago for a period of at least one year and has resided in an electoral district/constituency for a least two months prior to the Qualifying Date.
- A Non-Commonwealth Citizen, 18 years of age or older, who has resided legally in Trinidad and Tobago for a period of at least five years and has resided in an electoral district/constituency for a least two months prior to the Qualifying Date.
Non-Commonwealth Citizens are only eligible to vote in City or Borough elections within Trinidad. They cannot vote in Parliamentary or Tobago House of Assembly elections.
Under what conditions will my name be removed from the list of electors?
Under the provisions of the act,
(1) No person is qualified to be or to remain registered as an elector who –
- is mentally ill, within the meaning of the Mental Health Act;
- is under sentence of death imposed on him by a Court in any part of the Commonwealth or is serving a sentence of imprisonment (by whatever name called) exceeding twelve months imposed on him by such a Court or substituted by competent authority for some other sentence imposed on him by such a Court or is under such a sentence of death or imprisonment the execution of which has been suspended;
- is disqualified for registration as an elector by virtue of any law in force in Trinidad and Tobago by reason of his having been convicted of any offence relating to elections.
(2) No person, other than a person referred to in section 13(1)c, is qualified to remain registered as an elector if he ceases to be a Commonwealth citizen.
What does the term "Qualifying date" mean?
Qualifying date" means the ninth day after the date fixed as the date of commencement of an electoral registration by Proclamation issued under section 30.
Who is excepted from Jury Service?
Under Section 7 of the Jury Act, Chapter 6:53, the following classes of persons are excepted from Jury Service.
- Members of Parliament
- Members of the Tobago House of Assembly
- The Judges of the Supreme Court
- Magistrates and their Clerks
- Justices of the Peace
- Ministers of Religion
- Mayors and Deputy Mayors
- Consuls and Vice-Councils
- Members of the Medical Board in actual practice
- Licensed Druggists in actual practice as such
- Persons (other than licensed shop-keepers) registered under the Medical Board Act
- Barristers and Solicitors in actual practice and their Clerks
- Officers of Courts of Justice
- Jailors and persons employed as Deputies under them
- Members of the Defence Force
- Members of the Police Service and Constables
- Members of the Fire Service
- Officers and servants of the Post Office or the Customs and Excise Department
- Pilots who are licensed under the provisions of Section 5 of the Pilotage Act
- Members of the air crew of any company, firm or other organization operating an air-line service under an agreement with the Government who holds licenses issued by the Director of Civil Aviation.
The Spouses of the following persons –
- Judges of the Supreme Court
- Members of Parliament
- Mayors and Deputy Mayors
- Magistrates and their Clerks
- Justices of the Peace
- Barristers and Solicitors and their Clerks
- Officers of Courts of Justice
- Members of the Police Service
What are the qualifications to be a candidate? Residency requirements, financial status, mental status?
A. Please note the Constitution section 47 & 48
47. Subject to the provisions of section 48, a person shall be qualified to be elected as a member of the House of Representatives if, and shall not be qualified to be so elected unless, he—
- is a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago of the age of eighteen years or upwards; and
- has resided in Trinidad and Tobago for a period of two years immediately before the date of his nomination for election or is domiciled and resident in Trinidad and Tobago at that date.
48. (1) No person shall be qualified to be elected as a member of the House of Representatives who—
- is a citizen of a country other than Trinidad and Tobago having become such a citizen voluntarily, or is under a declaration of allegiance to such a country;
- is an un-discharged bankrupt having been adjudged or otherwise declared bankrupt under any law in force in Trinidad and Tobago;
- is mentally ill, within the meaning of the Mental Health Act;
- is under sentence of death imposed on him by a Court or is serving a sentence of imprisonment (by whatever name called) exceeding twelve months imposed on him by a Court or substituted by competent authority for some other sentence imposed on him by a Court, or is under such a sentence of imprisonment the execution of which has been suspended;
- is disqualified for membership of the House of Representatives by any law in force in Trinidad and Tobago by reason of his holding, or acting in, any office the functions of which involve—
- any responsibility for, or in connection with, the conduct of any election; or
- any responsibility for the compilation or revision of any electoral register;
- is disqualified for membership of the House of Representatives by virtue of any law in force in Trinidad and Tobago by reason of his having been convicted of any offence relating to elections; or
- is not qualified to be registered as an elector at a Parliamentary election under any law in force in Trinidad and Tobago.
Is there a rule against exit polling by news organizations? What would the EBC consider to be best practice in this area?
Currently, there is no law as it regards specifically to ‘exit polling’ but section 91
- (Representation of the People Act) stipulates that “During the hours that the poll is open upon polling day no person shall in, in any polling station or upon any road or in any public place within one hundred yards of any polling station, seek to influence any elector to vote or to refrain from voting for any candidate or political party or to ascertain from whom any elector intends to vote or has voted.
- Any person who contravenes this section is liable on summary conviction to a fine of seven thousand, five hundred dollars ($7,500.00) or to imprisonment for three months.
What are the legal parameters for the operations of the EBC? What are its powers? What are some of the more common misconceptions about its role for elections?
A. The Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC) is responsible for the registration of voters and the conduct of all elections: Parliamentary, Municipal Council and Tobago House of Assembly. The Commission also has within its remit constitutional responsibility for reviewing the number and boundaries of the electoral districts into which Trinidad and Tobago is divided for the purposes of elections as aforementioned, and for the submission of these reports to relevant authorities.
One of the misconceptions the public have of the EBC is the perception that the EBC has the powers of arrest when certain election irregularities are bought to the attention of the Commission. When such an incident occurs the EBC will inform the police who would then take the necessary action after an investigation.
Who else, in addition to T&T citizens, can vote in an election?
A. In Trinidad and Tobago a person is qualified to be an elector for an electoral district at elections to either Parliament or Tobago House of Assembly provided that person is of the age of eighteen or more years and on the qualifying date is either
- a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago or
- a citizen of a Commonwealth country other than Trinidad and Tobago, and has been resident in Trinidad and Tobago for a period of at least one year immediately preceding the qualifying date, such residency being in accordance with the meaning of Section 5(1) of the Immigration Act.
In the case of Municipal Council elections, the conditions at (i) and (ii) of the foregoing apply to citizens of Trinidad and Tobago and Commonwealth citizens. However, for non-Commonwealth citizens such persons are required to have resided in the country for a continuous period of at least five years immediately before the preceding date. For these citizens there are other additional requirements associated with the distance of their residence from a City or Borough or their occupation as owners of property of a certain annual rateable value.
Please clarify the use of voters’ identification on polling day? Would persons be able to vote without using an ID card?
- Once the elector’s name is on the voter’s list and he/she has a valid Identification Card (I.D.) that person is allowed to vote – No checking of the Unit Register is required hence, the voting process can be completed in a short time.
- A person CAN vote without having an I.D. card once his/her name is on the voter’s list however, the Unit Register MUST be checked and once that persons registration records is located a comparison is made with the photo on the REGISTRATION RECORDS in order to verify the prospective voter. Thereafter, the elector is required affirmation (Form No. 53 – Oath of Elector without Identification Card). The information is subsequently recorded o the poll card and the polling station diaries.
Q&A on the on the Representation of the People (ROP) Act
Can the appointment of a sub-agent be revoked?
Yes. His or her appointment may be revoked by a sitting election agent and not by one who has ceased to be such, notwithstanding the former agent might have been the one made the original appointment. In the event of such, revocation or upon death of the sub-agent, another is appointed in accordance with the procedure outlined previously, the returning officer giving forthwith public notice thereof.
When is an sub-agent appointed?
Not later than (3)three clear days before polling day, the election agent shall declare in writing to the appropriate returning officer the name and address of the sub-agent, the returning officer must forthwith give public notice of this information.
Are election agents and sub-agents required to have their own officers?
Yes. “Every election agent or sub-agent shall have an office to which all claims, notices, writs, summonses and documents may be sent, and the address of the office shall be declared at the same time as the appointment of the election agent or sub-agent to the returning officer, and shall be stated in the public notice giving the name of the agent or sub-agent.”
Can election agents and sub-agents be sued in respect of any matter connected with an election?
Yes. Every election agent or sub-agent may be sued in any Court having jurisdiction at the place where the office is located. It should also be noted that any claim, notice, unit, summons or document which is addressed to an election agent or sub-agent and delivered at the office, shall be deemed to have been served on the election agent or sub-agent.
What happens in the event a validly-nominated candidate fails to appoint an election agent?
The candidate is deemed to have named himself or herself as election agent. Likewise, in the event an election agent dies and a now appointment is not made, the candidate is deemed to have appointed himself of herself as election agent. The same applies in a situation where an election agent agent’s appointment is revoked and no appointment of a replacement is made. Note also that in circumstances where a candidate is his or her own election agent, the address of the candidate as given in the nomination paper shall be regarded as that of the office of the election agent. And once a returning officer is satisfied that a candidate falls to be treated as his or her own election agent, public notice is given forthwith , such notice giving name of the candidate and address of office.
Is an election agent allowed to appoint someone to assist him or her?
Yes. An election agent may appoint one deputy, referred to in the law a sub-agent.
What happens in circumstances where an election agent dies or his or her appointment is revoked before, during or after an election?
Another is appointed in accordance with the procedure as outlined previously, the returning officer giving forthwith public notice thereafter.
What is the name of the person who manages a candidate’s election business?
Who is an Election Officer?
Anyone of the following is an election officer,
- Chief Election Officer;
- Deputy Chief Election Officer;
- Assistant Chief Election Officer;
- Returning Officer;
- Presiding Officer;
- Deputy Presiding Officer;
- Registration Supervisors;
- Registration Officer;
- Assistant Registration Officer;
- and Scrutineer.
How many election agents is a candidate allowed to have?
When is an election agent appointed?
Not later than (5)five clear days before polling day and the name and address of such agent shall be declared in writing to the appropriate returning officer by the candidate or by a person acting on his behalf. Upon receipt of this information the returning officer must give public notice of it.
Might a candidate declare himself of herself as his or her own election agent?
Tell me, as manager of a candidate’s election business, is an election agent also responsible for hiring his or her candidate’s election staff?
Yes. It is the election agent who, on the behalf of the candidate appoints every polling agent, special polling agent, clerk and messenger employed for payment. In addition, the election agent is responsible for hiring any committee room on behalf of the candidate.
What are polling agents and special polling agents required to do?
Each validly nominated candidate is permitted under the Election Rules to appoint one polling agent “to attend at each polling station” for such purposes as provided by (the ) Election Rules. Further, the candidate is also permitted to appoint “one special polling agent whose duty it is to be present at the issue of ballot papers at special polling stations and to attend the declaration by the Returning officer, of the result of the poll.”
Is the benefactor required to provide a statement of what he or she has paid on behalf of the candidate?
Yes. A statement of particulars must be made, supported by bills and receipts and these documents must be submitted to the election agent in time for him or her to comply with the time-limit of 42 days mentioned earlier.
Can any person meet the petty expenses such as would be incurred for the purchase of stationery, postage and the like, on behalf of a candidate?
Yes. But before meeting any such expenses the person must be authorised by the election agent to do so; such authorisation must state the limit of expenses. Any amount exceeding such limit has to be met by the election agent.
Are there any specific prohibitions against expenses not authorized by an election agent?
Yes. It is only the candidate, the election agent and persons authorised in writing by the election agent who may incur expenses in connection with the following:
- holding of public meetings or organising public displays; or
- issuing of advertisements, circulars and publications; or
- presenting to elections the candidate, or his or her views or the extent or nature of his or her backing or disparaging another candidate.
Publications as referred to at (ii) shall not limit “the publication of any matter relating to the election in a newspaper or other periodical”. Also, there is no prohibition against expenses not exceeding $100 which may be incurred by any John Doe on behalf of the candidate. However such expenses must not be incurred in pursuance of any plan suggested by or concerted with others. Further, the prohibition does not apply to travelling or similar expenses incurred by any person. Likewise, the prohibition does not apply to expenses incurred in connection with the holding of meetings to distribute political information or to promote the principles of a political party or a political or other organisation.
Assuming that Ms. Citizen has incurred expenses relating to (i), (ii) and (iii) in the answer given to the last question, such expenses having been duly authorised by the election agent, is she too required to submit any return of such expenses?
Yes. Within 21 days after the date of publication of the result of the election, Ms Citizen is required to submit to the Chief Election Officer a return of the amount of such expenses accompanied by a sworn declaration. The return and declaration must be in accordance with the requirements of Form 3 in the Prescribed Form Rules of the Representation of the People Act.
Is there an overall blanket limitation on election expenses?
There is. The current law limits the total expenditure by the candidate and the election agent in respect of a parliamentary Election to $50,000. The corresponding amount for both Municipal/Regional Corporation Elections and Elections of the Tobago House of Assembly is $25,000. Note that these sums do not include a candidate’s personal expenses which you would recall should not exceed $5000 (any additional personal expenses beyond that amount has to be met by the election agent); neither do such amounts include any deposit made by a candidate in accordance with the Election Rules.
Is the true return I have just referred to the only document to be submitted?
No. All bills and receipts must be sent in together with Form 4, duly completed.
Are there any special forms to be used for the purpose of the Return and the Declaration?
Yes. Form 4 in the Prescribed Form Rules of the Representation of the People Act for the statement of the Return and Form 5 of the same Rules for the declaration.
Through whom are election expenses paid?
The election agent of the candidate. In fact the law states that no payment, no advance, no deposit in report of election expenses shall be made by the candidate or the election agent. Where expenses are below one hundred dollars, vouchers and bills are not required. However where expenses exceed that amount bills, vouchers and receipts stating the relevant particulars, are mandatory.
Who are the persons authorised to incur election expenses on behalf of a candidate?
The candidate or the election agent. Note too that any contract whereby election expenses are incurred shall not be enforceable against a candidate when entered into by the candidate or by the election agent.
May gifts, loans, advances or deposits be given to a candidate?
Yes. Note however that such gifts or payments must be made either to the candidate or to the election agent and not otherwise.
Is there any spending limit on the personal expenses of a candidate?
Yes. The candidate is allowed to pay personal expenses incurred in connection with or incidental to the election up to a maximum of $5000. Any additional expenses so incurred by the candidate shall be paid by the election agent.
Is there a time limit on sending a Return of Election Expenses to the Chief Election Officer?
Yes. Within 42days after the declaration of the result of an election, the election agent must submit to the Chief Election Officer what is referred to as a true return, i.e. a statement of all payments made by the election agent. Note that this return must be accompanied by a declaration made by the election agent before a Justice of the Peace.
Is there a time limit for claims against a candidate or his or her election agent and if so what is the limit.
Yes. All claims in respect of election expenses against a candidate or his or her election agent must be submitted to the election agent with 21 days of the declaration of the results of the elections. Claims submitted outside of the deadline shall be not accepted.
Note particularly that all expenses must be paid within 35 days after the day the results of the election were declared.