The 2014 PLE needs to be fixed

Dear Editor,

Based on the 2002 census, roughly 39.06% of the population is ineligible to vote, meaning they are under 18 years. The population has not changed as the preliminary 2012 census results confirmed. The 39.06% and 60.94% percentages from the 2002 census are consistent with the 1991 census which revealed the non-voting age population at 39.40% and the voting age population at 60.60%. Consider-ing the trend from 1991 and Guyana’s small population decline in the 2012 census, the voting age population is not expected to change or change only very insignificantly. For a population of 747,884 based on the 2012 census, the 39.06% ineligible-to-vote population is 292,273 voters. This means the eligible to vote population should be around 455,611. The current 2014 Preliminary List of Electors (PLE) contains 567,125 electors. This is 111,514 more electors than might be statistically expected based on prior and recent census results on the age of the population. Guyana’s median age is around 24 years, which is similar to Jamaica’s that has 60% of population aged 18 years or older.

There is a statistical discrepancy here that must be addressed. The PLE is supposed to be the list of all eligible voters, meaning all eligible voters 18 years and over. An increase of 99,022 names in the 2014 PLE as against the 2011 Official List of Electors (OLE) against the backdrop of a census confirming population stagnation warrants inquiry.

We are talking of an increase that amounts to 13.24% of the entire population, 21.73% of the estimated voting age population of 455,611 and 20.82% of the 475,496 registered voters in 2011. In fact, 567,125 electors on the 2014 PLE versus the 475,496 on the 2011 OLE is a 91,629 increase in voters, a statistical absurdity considering our population stagnation, increasing migration rates since 2011 and steady historical age percentages of the entire population. Even worse, regions that experienced population decline in the 2012 census had significant increases in registered voters on the 2014 PLE.

My suspicion is that the 2014 PLE just like the 2011 OLE has thousands of names of the dead and migrated. I did a cursory check of the 2014 PLE and found the names of several migrated individuals. However, this is not a new problem and it would have similarly inflated the 2011 OLE. The question is whether thousands more of the dead and migrated have made their way onto the list since 2011. The other explanations for the increase are fictional names and names of individuals under age 18. Given that the registration is from age 14, I suspect some of those names are persons under 18 years who were initially registered. If this has indeed occurred, it would suggest we might have a problem of data integrity failure and absurd systems. With Gecom already highlighting the General Register Office’s failure (under Rohee’s mandate) to provide information to update the National Register of Registrants (NRR), we already know one source of the problem.

The 2014 PLE needs to be fixed, and the discrepancies explained.

 

Yours faithfully,
M Maxwell

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