New GECOM continuous registration exercise underway

As part of preparations for the upcoming Local Government Elections (LGE), the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has started a new cycle of continuous registration.

The new registration exercise, which began on May 21st, will run until July 15th, 2018. Persons needing to register are being advised to visit the office in their respective communities between 8 am and 5 pm from Monday to Thursday, 6 am to 4 pm on Friday and 10 am to 2 pm on weekends and holidays.

There are 27 registration centres located across the country.

There continues to be concerns about the vetting of the voters’ list to ensure that persons who are deceased are not included.

Stabroek News was told that there will always be concerns about the size of the list, given that the estimated population is over 700,000, while the list stands at around 600,000. A source said that this is evidence that it has more people than it should.

While it was noted that the excess may be deceased persons, the source said their names can only be removed by a death report, which is presented by the General Register Office (GRO) to the commission on a monthly basis. The source said that very often the names in those reports do not match the records of the commission and therefore cannot be removed from the database. In cases where there is a match, those names are flagged and are removed.

Stabroek News was told that the commission at the moment is exploring a variety of methods that can be used to fully utilise the death reports.

When the commission’s Chairman, Justice (retired) James Patterson was asked earlier this month about the possibility of house-to-house registration or the vetting of the list, his response was “when that phase arises, it will be made public. The commission hadn’t decided as far as I know.”

Sources had indicated to this newspaper previously that house-to-house registration is not an option that is being considered at the moment.

The PNCR in April called for house-to-house registration, saying that it would clean up the country’s voters’ list. “Let us truly sanitise the list of electors by having ‘house to house’ registration, hence all those who are alive will be on the list,” a statement from the party said.

PNCR General Secretary and Chief Scrutineer for the governing APNU+AFC coalition Amna Ally later repeated much of the statement to this newspaper, while saying that her party will ensure that if there is house-to-house registration, it will be a transparent process.

Her party believes that the transparent process would help to assure all parties that the list is in no way compromised and the names of dead persons are removed.

“That is my position. It is now for GECOM to work it out. I don’t know what they have, what they need, what they want and so on, so they will have to determine. I can only give you the broader picture and that is what I would like to have,” she said. “We would not allow errors in our time. I am saying that it will be a transparent process and it is having the people registered so that those who are alive and resident in Guyana are reflected on the electors’ roll. When it is going to be ready, it is not a question for me…,” she added.

The AFC has said it is also in favour of house-to-house registration. “The matter hasn’t been formally raised with the AFC but given rising concerns about fake ID cards and to avoid spurious allegations of interference being made by the PPP, we will support the call for fresh house-to-house registration,” AFC Leader Raphael Trotman said.

The opposition PPP/C subsequently warned that the PNCR’s call for a house-to-house registration exercise to produce a new voters’ list “reeks of desperation” and could derail local government elections set for later this year and even the 2020 general elections.

“House-to-house registration is a meticulous process that necessitates a protracted time period for its completion and accuracy. Therefore having realised that its support is diminishing, this desperate call for a new house-to-house registration by the PNC[R] three years hence, can only be seen as a deliberate attempt to postpone or even derail Local Government Elections [LGE] scheduled for later this year and General and Regional Elections constitutionally due in 2020. The PPP urges all Guyanese not to be misled by a now worried and desperate PNC[R] through its usual diversionary tactics,” the party said in a statement.

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