In the Demerara Waves of August 3, 2017, some comments were attributed to Dr David Hinds. Demerara Waves reported as follows: “I think the problem for us in Guyana was not the concept of overseas voting, but that it was used as part of the rigging machinery of that time. So, in an era of fair elections, the meaning changes. I would propose that if we go that direction, as I think we should, it would bring overseas Guyanese more emotionally attached to Guyana”.
If these comments are accurately reproduced, they are the most outrageous suggestions. Guyana still has an infant electoral system that was butchered for 24 years by the PNC rigging machine. Additionally, since free and fair elections returned to Guyana, Gecom has demonstrated very low competence at its job if it was to benchmark its performance by international best practices. It barely controlled the local voting system and always took too long to release the official results.
Today on top of such a weak system, Gecom is saddled with even more risks as a result of these acts of political gymnastics being perpetrated by President David Granger with respect to the appointment of its chairman.
Even when the PNC rioters were stoning the Gecom head office in 1992, we had a stronger institution. With Jimmy Carter in the building, the Gecom machinery knew that its work towards free and fair elections and elections free from fear was going to be preserved. But today, the risk of Gecom staff being rendered into pawns is greater.
Is the suggestion attributed to Dr Hinds geared to return Guyana to the undemocratic days? I am of the view that Gecom is not experienced or capable enough to manage two platforms (local and overseas) of voting and voters simultaneously. If Gecom fails to control the process, an already very challenged electoral system will see its integrity further deteriorating.
Overseas voting is an absolutely bad idea and postal voting is an even worse idea. If Guyanese like me who are temporarily overseas, but want to vote in the Guyanese elections, then we must demonstrate our commitment to our nation and pay our airfare and get down to Guyana and do our national duty. Electoral freedom for Guyana did not come cheaply and we in the diaspora must not seek to utilize a cheap route if we want to participate in the Guyanese elections.