The Ashburton Guardian, COUNTY AGRICULTURAL & SPORTING RECORDER TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 1880.
One of the leading features in the work of last session of Parliament was the passing of two measures intended to hring about some extent of electoral reform. The first of these was the Qualification of Electors Act, and the other the Kegistration of Electors Act. The former simply defines who are entitled to exercise the franchise in this colony, and who may be elected under the franchise to the House of Kepresentatives; while the latter—a
more extensive and elaborate Act—provides the maahinery for registration. The Qualification of Electors Act defines electors as follows :—(1) Every man of full age who has owned a freehold of twenty-five pounds value within the electoral district for six months before the registration of his vote. (2) Every man of full age who has resided for one year in the colony, and for six months in the district in which he claims to vote, the six months’ residence in the district to be immediately preceding the registration of his vote—provided always that he is not registered under the freehold provision just quoted. (3) Every male Maori of full age enrolled on the ratepayers’ roll in force in the district in which he claims to vote, “ or who is seized in severalty of a freehold estate of the value of £25, whether subject to encumbrances or not ; but no Maori shall be entitled to a vote under any other qualification under this Act.” (4) Aliens, and persons found guilty of treasonable or infamous offences cannot be electors ; unless in the latter case they have obtained a free pardon or have undergone the sentence or punishment to which they have been adjudged ; and persons so guilty in the future "shall have their names expunged from the rolls, to be replaced only after twelve months have elapsed since the completion of their sentence or punishment for the offences of which they may have been guilty, unless they have received a free pardon. For the purposes of this Act, the day on which the registrar places an elector's name upon the roll, shall be deemed the day of registration. None but an elector can be elected to the House of Representatives, and every elector is eligible unless he come within the meaning of the “ Public Offenders Disqualification Act, 1867,” section 2. A sitting member of the House if he happen to cease to be an elector, does not lose his seat from that cause. Holders of miners rights may vote upon their existing qualification during the year 1880. This Act does not affect or interfere with the special representation enjoyed by Maoris under the Maori Representation Act of 1867. , After the usual interpretation clause, the Registration of Electors Act provides for the appointment by the Governor from time to time, of such registrars, &c., as the provisions of the Act may require—such officers to hold office during the pleasure of his Excellency. Clause G provides that as soon as conveniently may be after the commencement of this Act the registrar of every electoral district shall form a new roll for such district, by placing thereon the names of all persons who are qualified in such district to vote for members of the House of Representatives, and who are on the roll of any electoral district in force at the commencement of this Act. “ Forthwith, after a new division of the colony into electoral districts in pursuance of any law for the time being in force for the constitution of such districts, new rolls shall be formed in like manner as is prescribed for the formation of the first roll.” It shall be the duty of every registrar to make the rolls as complete as possible,” and with that object in view to place thereon, or add thereto, the name of every person of whose qualification as an elector he is satisfied, and it shall fur liter be his duty to assure himself of the right of every man to have his name retained upon the roll, which shall be made up in the form prescribed by the first schedule of the Act, and which is similar to that now in use. Persons desirous of having their names placed upon the roll are required to apply in writing to the registrar, the application to be delivered at the office of the registrar or posted to him, and must contain applicant’s name, place of abode, and occupation, and a declaration of the necessary twelve months’ residence in the colony and six months’ residence in the district. If the claim is made in respect of a qualification other than residence the particulars must be given, and the reference to residence omitted. This application must further bear the signature, address, and occupation of the claimant, the date of making the claim, and the signature of an elector in the district as witness, or the registration officer, oraJ.P. A false declaration incurs a penalty not exceeding £2O. Fifteen days are allowed the registrar to assure himself of the claimant’s bona tides, at the end of which time he must add the name to the roll, or finding that proof of any particular is wanted, notify the claimant of such in writing. If, however, the claimant satisfy the registrar that the claim is valid, the name must be added forthwith. If within ten days after the registrar has asked for proof as above provided for, the claimant fail to satisfy the registrar that his claim is valid, or fail to withdraw his claim (which he may do in writing) the registrar shall summons him before a Resident Magistrate, where parties may appear personally, or by counsel, or by agent. Failure to appear on the part of the registrar shall entitle the claimant to have his name placed on the roll forthwith ; failure on the part of the claimant shall cause 1 im to forfeit all right. If both appear, the onus of proof shall lie with the claimant, and if he substantiate his claim his name shall be ordered to be placed on the roll, and if he fail to prove his claim his name shall be withheld. In regard to witnesses, &c. , the R. M. shall possess the same power under this Act as he exercises under the Resident Magistrate’s Act, 1867. Names on the rolls may be objected to by the registrar or by any 7 elector, by notice given in writing to the person objected to, and such person must cause his name to be erased from the roll within fifteen days, or be summoned before the Resident Magistrate to show cause, but no grounds of objection will be entertained except such as are set forth in the summons. One pound must be deposited with the clerk of the R.M. Court, if the objector be other than the registrar, as security for any costs tha may be awarded against him. Provision is made in clauses 21, 22, and 23, for the transfer of an elector from one roll to another after he has resided in another district for one month, and a name shall be deemed to be erased from the roll when a red line is drawn through it initialed by the registrar. Rolls shall be arranged alphabetically and numbered consecutively, additions being numbered consecutively in the order in which they are added, commencing with the number immediately following that affixed to the last proceeding name on the roll. The roll so formed, added to, and altered, from time to time shall be the legal roll of the district for which it is made. The roll of any district is to be kept at some convenient office to be fixed by the Colonial Secretary, and notice of the situation of such office and every change thereof shall be advertised by the registrar. A notice shall be painted outside the office that the roll is kept therein, and such notice shall also intimate the days on which the roll is open to public inspection, which must be at least two days in each week, from 10 a.m. till 2 p.m. Copies of the roll, or extracts therefrom, may bo obtained on payment of Is. for every 72 words or part of 72 words. Four months after the first roll in any district has been formed the same shall be printed, with all the additions of names inserted in alphabetical order ; and at any time thereafter, when not less a hundred names have been addeu, a new roll shall be formed by the rearrangement in alphabetical order of all the names, and the same shall be re-printed, provided it has not been re-printed within the preceding twelvemonths. Rut it shall always be lawful at any time to print a supplementary roll instead of reprinting the whole, and a supplementary roll shall be printed immediately preceding any election. Copies of any printed roll may be obtained at the rate of one shilling for a
thousand names, and one-and-sixpence for more than one thousand. Registrars are exempt from Court fees in any proceedings under this Act, and are authorised to frank letters in conformity with instructions issued by the Post-master-General. For wilful breach or neglect of the provisions of this Act, registrars shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding £SO.