The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is once again voicing its concern over what it claims to be irregularities on the Preliminary List of Electors (PLE) after eighteen persons on the PLE were found to have the same address.
At the party’s weekly press briefing yesterday, General Secretary, Clement Rohee, said that “The Party had cause to write GECOM only last Thursday 14th August, 2014 after one of our field operatives found eighteen (18) persons on the PLE with the same Georgetown address. At the said address they found one of the eighteen people with a prepared list of the eighteen that were listed.”
Rohee said that “while it may be possible that these eighteen persons are living at that address we call on GECOM to physically verify these persons’ existence and their place of residence”.
The party’s general secretary stated that within the past few weeks there has been an array of “discrepancies arising out of the registration process and the production of a Preliminary List of Electors”.
He reiterated that “the PPP stands by its claims of list padding”. Just last week the PPP expressed “grave concern” over indications that the PLE may be padded due to the influx of registrants.
Rohee said that the party is calling on GECOM to once again explain “the drastic increase in new registrants (over 78,000) when the average annual increase of New Registrants is usually just over 11,000”. This issue was raised at its press conference last week.
GECOM’s newly appointed Deputy Chief Election Officer and acting Public Relations Officer, Vishnu Persaud had told Stabroek News that the commission stood behind the accuracy of the PLE and the National Register of Registrants.
He had stated that an increase of registrants could stem from a variety of reasons including the increase in birth certificates issued by the General Register Office, GECOM’s campaign to have people registered and more specifically the influence the political parties have had in encouraging new registrants.
Meanwhile, the PPP yesterday said it has been submitting irregularities to GECOM on an ongoing basis rather than waiting until the Claims and Objections period concludes since this period lasts for only 28 days and only ten more days are left.
The PPP also asked what quality control mechanism was used for inputting data from the National Register of Registrants into the PLE and who did it?
It also wants to know why critical vacancies including those yet to be filled in the Information Technology department were not filled and were only acted upon after questions were raised by the PPP?
The PPP is also asking when GECOM will put an International Monitoring Unit (IMU) or Joint International Technical Assistance (JITA) in place to oversee the inputting of data and the evaluation of such data as well? The JITA had been in place for previous elections.
The PPP says GECOM must also produce evidence about what it had said were impersonators posing as GECOM officials in Region One.
“The PPP found it was quite extraordinary that on the very day GECOM claimed there were GECOM impersonators on the ground at Region One soon after APNU (A Partnership for National Unity) made the same allegations. This hasty and unfounded claim by GECOM about impostors was made before checking the accuracy of the allegation (and) put the lives of PPP activists at risk.”
That statement by the PPP seems to suggest that it may have had some connection with the persons who were carrying out registration related exercises. It had been alleged that these persons were community support officers (CSOs) hired by the government and performing political work on behalf of the governing party. The opposition had disapproved funding for this programme in this year’s budget so it is unclear how the activities of the CSOs are being funded.