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Gov’t says LGE voter turnout “better than anticipated”

APNU+AFC's candidates managed an impressive showing at the polls

APNU+AFC’s candidates managed an impressive showing at the polls

The APNU+AFC is defending its decision not to name Friday March 18, a National Holiday to facilitate Local Government Elections (LGE) saying that the turnout to Friday’s polls was better than what was expected.

Credible sources have told Demerara Waves Online News that GECOM insiders had forecast a 30 percent turnout.

At a press conference on Saturday morning, President David Granger, Minister of State Joseph Harmon and Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan all pointed out that in the past LGE turn outs have been lower.

The President pointed out that in some parts of Guyana’s there are no local government bodies hence all of Guyana was not required to vote.

He pointed out one example as Region 8 and another being the Linden/Soesdyke Highway between Yarrowkabra and Linden.

Harmon, for his part, pointed out that in the past instances when Guyana observed LGE, the voter turnout was significantly lower.

“Historically the voter turnout has been lower than they are for national and regional elections…The voter turnout was even better than anticipated…It is really a fresh start almost where local government elections are concerned,” said Harmon.

IMG-20160318-WA0002Relative to the government not naming Friday a holiday, Harmon declared that the turnout figures vindicate the government.

“When you look at what has happened it is a decision that has been vindicated,” he affirmed.

The Communities Minister estimated that approximately 40% of the electorate voted in Essequibo.

“If indeed the overall turnout is around this figure…I would see that as a very high turnout,” he said.

Less than 50 percent of registered voters turned out to vote in Friday’s Local Government Elections, the first such polls in since 1994, authorities estimated.

Various authoritative sources in Essequibo, Berbice and Georgetown estimate that the turnout was in the 40s in most areas.

IMG_2231Polls closed at 18:00hrs, paving the way for the counting of votes and the posting of Statements of Poll at the 1,562 polling stations in the 72 town and neighbourhood councils.

Head of the Private Sector Commission’s (PSC) Observer Mission, Captain Gerry Gouveia told Demerara Waves Online News that while the process was smooth and there were no major reports of irregularities, the turnout was poor. “The turnout was very, very low. That is what we getting across the country,” he said.

Gouveia said one difficulty that some voters complained about was the fact that there was no one at the bottom of the ballot papers for them to vote for, but it simply meant that there were no individual contestants. (Jomo Brusheildon Paul)

  • Emile_Mervin

    Of the number of eligible voters, how many voters actually cast ballots? That is how you determine whether voters turnout was high or low. Government could be satisfied because the results were in its favor based on the decision not to declare yesterday a national holiday, thereby suppressing voter turnout.

    But when you consider in 2014, while the AFC was pushing for no-confidence vote against Ramotar and the PPP, it was Granger and APNU who were pushing for LGE and even threatening massive protests. Yet when LGE was finally staged, it did not receive the kind of voter support with a bational holiday to mark its return, because the government knew it was not being viewed favorably after a series of missteps.

    The government defeated the true purpose of LGE by refusing to ensure maximum participation by voters, so its claim voter turnout was better than anticipated may be truly self serving.

  • Col123

    This govt. need to get back into the business of stuffing the ballot boxes to show that they have more that 80 % of the electorate…it is a shame that they are not helping out the ordinary citizens who couldn’t make it to the polling station…or choose not to vote…so that those with “connections ” to the govt. win….read the tea leaves …we will always win …lets do it….

    • Emile_Mervin

      LOL!

      • rs dasai

        Emile
        We know that those days are over. It is now ‘transparency’. We cannot hide.

  • Emile_Mervin

    APNU+AFC is not represented in the photograph above. All three – Granger, Harmon and Bulkan – are from APNU. The optics continue to distract.

    • Col123

      Correction : are from the PNC…call a fork a fork…

  • Emile_Mervin

    Democracy is a process that never ends with elections results, but if you are satisfied with mere elections results, then enjoy it.

    • Col123

      EM…Agree that Pres Granger may not have been energetic about this LGE…but he had no choice…He fought long and hard and used this LGE amongst other issues in politicking during the last general election….yes …so the LGE appears to be treated as a “stepson”…of his..I do not see the “low ” voter turnout as an indictment against him…I see it as an apathy of the voters who see it as politics as usual …and are simply fed up… and do not expect any improvement or reduction of their daily challenges, with their votes…

      • Emile_Mervin

        After decades of rigged elections and racial voting, voter apathy is understandable. However, since Granger held himself out as champion of the LGE cause, the onus was on him to reverse that apathy. Again, if his government can be satisfied with low voter turnout, then it achieved its goal, which is at variance with maximum voter participation at LGE.