Elections are conducted according to the Constitutional provisions, supplemented by the laws made by Parliament. The major laws among those are the Representation of the People Act (1964) which deals with all aspects of the conduct of elections and the National Registration Act (1967) which deals mainly with the preparation and revision of electoral rolls.
The current electoral system is the product of cross party agreement on constitutional reform, as catered for by the Herdmanston Accord. This witnessed the relevant parties agreeing to a reformed system which includes an element of geographic and gender representation. Previously, only 53 of the 65 members of the National Assembly were elected directly while the remaining twelve were indirectly twelve were indirectly elected.
Under the current system, which was adopted after the amending of the Constitution and the representation of the People Act Constitution (Amendment) Act No. 3 of 2000 and Election Laws (Amendment) Act No 15 2000, in November 2000, all members of the National Assembly are to be directly elected. Twenty-five to be elected from the ten geographic constituencies and the remaining forty elected from a national “top-up” list to guarantee a very high degree of proportionality. Any party contesting seats for the National Assembly must validly nominate candidates in six of the geographic constituencies or for thirteen of the twenty five constituency seats. Furthermore, a third of the candidates validly nominated must be women.
On 13 February 2001 the National Assembly further amended the Representation of the People Act, Constitution (Amendment) Act No. 1 of 2000, and the Representation of the People (Amendment) Act 2001 to allow the National Assembly to have at least sixty-five members and allow the Guyana elections Commission (GECOM) to allocate “overhand seats”, if required. Overhand seats would be required if a Party wins a disproportionate number of constituency seats thereby giving it an advantage over other parties. Under these circumstances, GECOM would award overhang seats to the national to-up to ensure that the advantage is removed.