TRANSNATIONAL GOVERNMENT OF TAMIL EELAM MANUAL OF PROCEDURE FOR TGTE ELECTION SELECTION COMMISSION
This manual is designed to provide guidance in conducting a fair and impartial Election.This handbook is not a legal document. It is an attempt to make the election process more readily understandable. Every attempt has been made to keep the language and structure of this manual as non-technical as possible. Controversies in interpretation of text here in should still be directed to the respective Election Commission for resolution and guidance.
Though an attempt is made to cover all aspects of Election Administration we would like to add that directions with regard to any aspect not covered herein may be sought,if need be, from the TGTE Election Commission, at all times.
1. Guiding Principles
1.1. Complementing the primary objective of the TGTE in fostering unity and the collective strength of the Tamil Community distributed far and wide, towards the realisation of its general goals.
1.2 A fully transparent democratic process to elect Representatives, ensuring total neutrality of all individuals charged with the planning and conduct of the Election and all phases thereof.
1.3 Decisions made at whatever level to be fair, impartial and reflective of equitable treatment of all Candidates and voters at all times – adhering to the dictum: Justice must not only be done but must also appear to be done.
1.4 Strictly adhering to universal norms followed in a Democratic environment.
2.1. ELECTION COMMISSION, TGTE
According to section 1.10.2 of the Constitution of the Transnational Government of TamilEelam (TGTE)
“The Prime Minister shall appoint a three member election commission based on the recommendation of the TGTE Assembly. The Election Commission shall be responsible for conducting future Elections for the TGTE. A member of the Election Commission shall not be a member of the Assembly nor the Advisory Committee or any other Committee of the TGTE.”
- The above Election Commissioners will be referred to as TGTE Election Commissioners.One of them will be the Chair of the TGTE Election Commission. TGTE Election Commissioners, by default, form part of all the Country Election Commissions, at all times.
- In order to have a good working relationship and for uniformity The TGTE Election Commission has to be informed of all Meetings of the Country Election Commissions.
- At least one of the TGTE Election Commissioners will participate at the meeting in person or through Skype or Phone.
- Meeting minutes have to be submitted to the TGTE Election Commission and feedback on the meeting minutes will be communicated to the respective Country Election Commission, in due time.
2.2 RECOMMENDED ADMINISTRATIVE STRUCTURE FOR UNIFORM ADOPTION IN ALL COUNTRIES
2.2.1 ELECTORAL DISTRICT/ CONSTITUENCY( single or multi-member)
The Electoral Districts identified in the various countries for the TGTE constituent Assembly Elections in May 2010 shall continue to be relevant for future Elections for the TGTE until changes are announced by the TGTE Election Commission.
For the purpose of TGTE Elections, each Country, based on its local administrative entities are divided into Regions. Regions are divided into Electoral Districts or Constituencies.
Administrative Guidelines for Elections to the TGTE Parliament is to be applied uniformly to TGTE Electoral Districts identified in the various countries.
2.2.2 ELECTION COMMISSION (Country)
ELECTION COMMISSIONER (Country)
An Election Commissioner (Country) as the Returning Officer shall take overall charge of Election Administration in the respective countries, to be appointed by the TGTE Election Commission, in consultation with and input of community Organisations.
The Election Commissioner (Country), in consultation with the TGTE Election Commission shall set up an Election Commission which shall be presided over by the Election Commissioner (Country) and comprising of not less than five Deputy Commissioners and an appropriate number of Assistant Commissioners to coordinate central planning and execution, with responsibilities delegated to cover all phases of the Election process which shall,inter alia, include,
- Handling the media for notifications to the public.
- Acceptance of Nominations with scrutiny of eligibility. In case no nomination is received at all for a particular constituency, the Election Commissioner (Country)has the discretion to accept nomination from candidates living anywhere in the respective Region or, if need be, from anywhere within the Country.
- Setting up and manning Polling Stations and related Operational aspects,
- Formatting of the Ballot as appropriate to the Electoral District
- Securing Ballots before and after the poll, irrespective of polling method
- Counting of votes under the supervision of a designated Counting Officer with assistance from Election staff specifically deployed by the Election Commissioner(Country).
CHIEF ELECTIONS OFFICER
The Election Commission, headed by the Election Commissioner (Country), shall appoint a Chief Elections Officer for each of the Electoral Districts in the Country.
The Chief Elections Officer shall be assisted by two or more Elections Officers at each Electoral District, also appointed by the Election Commission.
The Election Commission shall appoint Presiding Officers to be in charge of Polling Stations.
Presiding Officers are to be assisted by 3 or 4 Polling Officers, appointed by the Election Commission, their strength depending on the expected turn out of voters at respective Polling Stations.
Whilst the Presiding Officer is in overall charge of the Polling Station, the Polling Officers may be assigned various responsibilities at the discretion of the Presiding Officer, for smooth conduct of the poll.
3. ELECTION DATE
The TGTE Election Commission shall be responsible to fix polling dates which may or may not be the same in all countries though efforts will be made to hold Elections in all the Electoral Districts within a country on the same date.
4. RELEVANT TIME FRAMES
Date of Election: The date of the General election of Representatives to the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam will however be decided by the TGTE Election Commission in consultation with the Prime Minister.
Closing date for nominations: The closing date for nominations shall as decided by the TGTE Election Commission shall be uniformly followed world-wide.
Cut off date for withdrawal of Candidacy: Cut off date for withdrawal of Candidacy shall be two days from the closing date for nominations.
5. ELECTORAL SYSTEM, VOTING, VOTERS
With no pretensions of being comprehensive, an Electoral system refers to the chosen qualitative and quantitative nature of representation as applicable to a Democratic exercise. In the context of parliamentary Elections the adopted Electoral system shall generally determine who ( Electives)represents what (Electors,the voters) and where (geographic) boundaries. There could be a variety of Electoral systems adopted even within a given Country depending on the index Institution, the size of the Electorate varying from the whole country to smaller geographic entities (Presidency, Parliament, City Council, School Board etc).
5.1. THE VOTE IN TGTE GENERAL ELECTIONS
For the TGTE Elections Eelam Tamils are generally eligible for a single vote to be exercised at their respective Electoral Districts based on their residence.
However, there could be variations in multi-member Constituencies, explained hereinafter.
TGTE Electoral Districts may have a single or multiple member representation in the forthcoming Election. The Simple Majority system will generally be in operation to decide the winners. However, varying systems may be adopted to decide winners in a multi-member Constituency. Respective Country Election Commissions have been mandated to employ an appropriate voting system to suit their own circumstances.
5.2. SIMPLE MAJORITY VOTING
- Single – Member Constituency
- This method of voting is also known as “first-past-the-post” or “winner-take-all” system where by the seat gets awarded to the candidate polling the highest number of votes, irrespective of its proportion to the total votes polled.
- Multi-Member Constituency
- In a multi-member Constituency voters will be entitled for a maximum number of votes limited by the actual number of members to be elected. Successful Candidates shall be decided on the basis of total votes polled by each Candidate. or
- with a cut off on the basis of the total votes polled by each candidate, voters being entitled to one vote only.
In a multi-member Constituency where a voter is entitled for as many votes as the number of members to be elected the ballots will still be deemed valid even in the event of the voter choosing to vote for fewer than the number of Candidates, provided however that the ballot will be rejected if the voter appears to choose more than the actual number of Candidates to be elected.
6.1 VOTER ELIGIBILITY
6.1.1 The voter must be 17 years or over on Election Day
6.1.2 Must be identifiable with Tamil Eelam culture by descent, marriage or adoption or claimed as such under any other residual category, to be ruled on as admissible or otherwise by the Presiding Officer. The latter category is a residual category to be applied strictly having regard to the merit of each individual case.
7.1 ELIGIBILITY OF CANDIDATES
7.1.1 In addition to generally qualifying as a voter as per stipulations above,
7.1.2 A prospective Candidate should have domicile status in the country and ideally be living within the respective constituency or within the Region. If no candidates come forward even from within the respective region nomination may be accepted from Candidates living in other regions within the country.
7.1.3 Shall not hold any office in the TGTE Election Commission or Country Election Commission nor be in any way connected to the TGTE Election Administration anywhere.
7.1.4 Should not have been convicted for any criminal offence by any court of law for an offence committed for profit or with profit motive but shall be deemed qualified,however, if considered absolved with the record of conviction expunged from the register, at the time;
7.1.5 Does not enjoy employment, status or economic benefit from countries considered inimical to the interest of the Eelam Tamil people.
The quantum of the Deposits (Registration fee) to be made by candidates while filing their nominations shall be set by the Election Commission in the respective countries, in consultation with the TGTE Election Commission.
7.3 FILING NOMINATIONS
Inquiries regarding filing Nominations for Election to the TGTE should be directed to the Election Commissioner (Country). The Election Commissioner reserves the right to delegate member(s) of the Election Commission to process Nominations and also oversee polling operations on Election Day.
Nominations have to be submitted during times stipulated and prior to the stipulated Closing date at the designated venue notified in the press, Election Commissioner’s web site or any other appropriate medium.
The stipulated non-refundable Deposit (Registration fee) in the form of a Banker’s Draft drawn in favour of an account stipulated by the Election Commissioner has to be furnished by the Nominee prior to the closing date for nominations. An appropriate receipt will be issued to the Nominee who has to quote the reference given in the said receipt for any subsequent communication with the Election Commissioner.
7.4 WITHDRAWAL OF CANDIDACY Nominees withdrawing their Candidacy after a stipulated date for such will forgo the Deposit. However, those withdrawing within three days of the closing date shall be refunded 70% of the Deposit amount, withholding 30% towards Administration costs.
7.5 CONFIRMATION OF ACCEPTANCE OF NOMINATION
On satisfying eligibility, as per criteria, the Candidate will be issued confirmation of acceptance of the Nomination, in writing, by the Election Commissioner or on delegated authority by an Official of the Election Commission.
Should any question arise in matters of eligibility, the Candidate may be summoned to appear in person by the Election Commissioner for any clarification or elucidation, as appropriate.
The Election Commissioner shall publish the names of accepted Candidates in due time on the Election Commissioner’s web site or through a press release conforming to time frames stipulated at the time of calling for nominations.
7.6 DISQUALIFICATION OF CANDIDATES
A candidate may be disqualified with evidence as to ineligibility on the basis of the eligibility criteria or if it is established to the satisfaction of the Election Commission that acceptance of candidature had been on the basis of false information furnished.
8. PREPARATION FOR ELECTION DAY
The Election Commission will be responsible for preparation and all operations on Election Day.
The Election Commissioner shall appoint appropriate election officials and administrative staff required for Pre-Election preparations and to serve in various capacities on Election Day. Any person over age 17 may be appointed as an Election Official, provided they have the required skills to perform in their respective roles.
The Election Commissioner is responsible to organise and conduct training sessions for the Officials so that they acquire a clear understanding of their role.
The Election Commissioner shall ensure that the Officials subscribe to a declaration to function neutrally and also observing confidentiality, as directed by the TGTE Election Commission.
A person whose name appears on the ballot paper shall not be eligible to function as an Election Official.
8.1 ELECTION MATERIALS
The Election Commission shall be responsible for printing of the Ballots and provision of all stationery required on Election Day.