A significant number of voters on the list in 2006 had migrated

Dear Editor,

Your editorial of Sunday June 26 captioned ‘Partnership’ was fairly balanced and objective except for one point which you did not fully take into consideration when dealing with the issue of voter apathy.

The fact is that a significant number of voters who were on the voters’ list in the previous election do not actually reside in the country and are therefore physically unable to cast their ballots for one party or the other. In other words, the voters’ list is inflated by overseas Guyanese by a significant margin. It might be useful to do a calculation on the number of Guyanese who were resident in Guyana at the time of polling as a percentage of those who actually cast their ballots. I am certain that the percentage of voter turnout would be much higher than otherwise projected.

This partially explains why the hinterland communities have relatively high voter turnout, which as you correctly observed is now a major determinant in electoral outcomes. Unlike the two major ethnic groups, overseas migration is by far less pronounced among Amerindians and hinterland residents. The results of the last census showed that Amerindians comprise the fastest growing segment of the population, thanks to better health and education services.

There is one other distinction that needs to be made and that is what political analysts describe as ‘functional apathy,’ that is the percentage of voters who do not exercise their franchise due to ignorance of the political manifestos of the contending parties and who therefore are not in any position to make any meaningful decisions in terms of voting behaviour. This type of behaviour is more prevalent in metropolitan countries with significant migrant populations such as the United States, Canada and Britain. This explains low voter turnout in US presidential and congressional elections where the president is often elected with less than half of the total votes cast.

Yours faithfully,
Hydar Ally

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