To be complete a voter register must be accurate and current.
- Persons responsible for the compilation of files or those responsible for keeping them have an obligation to conduct regular checks on the accuracy and relevance of the data recorded and to ensure that they are kept as complete as possible in order to avoid errors of omission and that they are kept up to date regularly or when the information contained in a file is used, as long as they are being processed.
- There should be an administrative procedure – subject to judicial control – or a judicial procedure enabling electors not on the register to have their names included. In some countries, the closing date for entry in the supplementary register may be, for example, 15 days before the election or election day itself. The latter case, whilst admirably broad-minded, relies on decisions made by a court obliged to sit on polling day, and is thus ill-suited to the organisational needs on which democracies are based. In any event polling stations should not be permitted to register voters on election day itself.
- Electoral registers Fulfilment of the following criteria is essential if electoral registers are to be reliable: i. electoral registers must be permanent or refer to a register that is constantly updated (population register or register of births, marriages and deaths).
- ...[C]ommon problems associated with voter registration: [include] inaccurate lists...
- In order to ensure credible elections, the election authorities must ensure a Voters' Register that is complete, accurate and current.
- Further, the right to vote is subverted if the election system fails to ensure the accuracy of voter lists and thereby either disenfranchises eligible voters or allows illegal voting. Thus, another major component of the election system is the proper conduct of voter registration and maintenance of voter lists. This also requires specifying the method of establishing voter eligibility.
- A voter register has to be regularly updated to remain accurate.
- Accurate voters lists can only be produced if election officials do their job properly, the population responds actively to the display of draft voters lists, and individuals are able to prove their identity and residence.
- Voter lists should be current, accurate, complete, easily accessible for inspection by qualified voters and – subject to the protection of personal information – possibly by others (such as election contestants and scientific researchers) with a legitimate reason to access them.
- Registered voters may be provided with voter cards as proof of their registration. There may be legal provisions that allow non-registered eligible voters to be included on special supplementary voter lists on election day. In all cases, the procedures in place should ensure that all eligible electors are able to vote, only eligible electors are able to vote and that adequate measures are taken to prevent multiple registration that could lead to multiple voting (e.g., through changes in residence or name changes after marriage). Procedures should also be in place to ensure the removal of the names of deceased persons and the inclusion of newly eligible voters.
- The proper establishment and maintenance of electoral registers is vital in implementing and guaranteeing universal suffrage. In practice, it is a pre-condition for enabling voters to use their right to vote. Voter registration, however, is one of the most complex, controversial and often least successful parts of electoral administration in emerging and new democracies, especially in post-conflict situations with a large number of refugees and internally displaced persons.
- There must be regular updates, at least once a year, so that municipal (local) authorities get into the habit of performing the various tasks involved in updating at the same time every year. Where registration of voters is not automatic, a fairly long time period must be allowed for such registration.
- The proper maintenance of electoral registers is vital in guaranteeing universal suffrage. However, it is acceptable for voters not to be included automatically on the registers, but only at their request. In practice, electoral registers are often discovered to be inaccurate, which leads to disputes. Lack of experience on the part of the authorities, population shifts and the fact that few citizens bother to check the electoral registers when they are presented for inspection make it difficult to compile these registers. A number of conditions must be met if the registers are to be reliable: i. There must be permanent electoral registers.
- Irrespective of the method used to create a voters list for a particular election, the list must be complete, accurate and current in order to ensure that those eligible to vote are able to do so and those ineligible are barred from doing so.
- The right to vote is also violated if the legal framework fails to ensure accuracy in voter registers or facilitates fraudulent voting. The international standard for voter registration is that the register must be comprehensive, inclusive, accurate and up to date, and the process must be fully transparent.
- Fulfilment of the following criteria is essential if electoral registers are to be reliable: vi. provision may be made for a supplementary register as a means of giving the vote to persons who have moved or reached statutory voting age since final publication of the register.
- Furthermore, inaccuracies in electoral registers stem both from unjustified entries and from the failure to enter certain electors. A procedure of the kind mentioned in the previous paragraph should make it possible for electors to have erroneous entries corrected. The capacity for requesting such corrections may be restricted to electors registered in the same constituency or at the same polling station.
- Fulfillment of the following criteria is essential if electoral registers are to be reliable: ii. there must be regular up-dates, at least once a year. Where voters are not registered automatically, registration must be possible over a relatively long period.
- The legal framework should require that voter registers be maintained in a manner that is transparent, accurate, protects the right of citizens of legal age to register, and prevents the unlawful or fraudulent registration of persons.
- Accuracy is important, especially so in proportional representation systems that employ multi-member constituencies…