President David Granger is quoted in the press as saying that “the current voters’ list is bloated”. His words contributes to the school of thought that Guyana needs House-to-House Registration in 2019. But how authentic is this position?
Let us not lose focus on the fact that GECOM has two primary roles – maintaining a clean National Register of Registrants (NRR) from which the voters’ list is extracted and secondly, hold periodic elections. Have they been doing their job since Mr Patterson was foisted upon the nation as the Chairman? I leave you the readers to answer that question but let us examine this situation.
GECOM, between May and July 2018, ran a continuous registration process to update the NRR. This translates to verifying all claims to add all new persons to the NRR, who were 14 years and older as at the July 2018 cut-off date, and who are Guyanese citizen by birth, descent, naturalisation or is a citizen from a Commonwealth country living in Guyana for one year or more. Also during that same period, members of the public had the power to object to those names that were ineligible to be on the voters’ list (the dead for example).
But more importantly, there is a government agency called the GRO that is duty bound to provide to GECOM, a list of all the registered dead persons in order to facilitate these names being removed from the voters’ list.
So let us pick sense from nonsense – if all the eligible 14 years and older are on the NRR at July 2018 and the GRO did its job, why are we complaining about the quality of the list? If GECOM did a good job in July 2018, then clearly the list is not bloated but has been properly sanitised and is valid under the law until the end of April 2019 since those 14 years old are only 15 years today and not even eligible to be on the voters’ list
If one is to compare the Guyana list with some other CARICOM countries, we find that Mr Granger’s conclusion lacks scientific reasoning and is most unreasonable. According to a study done by the global NGO – IDEA (Sweden), many of the other CARICOM states have a higher percentage of their population on their respective voters’ list as seen in the graph below.
So what does this tells us?