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GECOM rebuffs PPP’s claim of plans to pad voters’ list

Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield and GECOM Chairman, Dr. Steve Surujbally.

Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield and GECOM Chairman, Dr. Steve Surujbally.

by Denis Chabrol and Gary Eleazar

Top Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) officials on Monday dismissed People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) claims that a plan has been hatched to pad future voters’ lists by sharing the database with the Ministries of Education and Social Services.

GECOM Chairman, Dr. Steve Surujbally ruled out voter-padding, saying that a completely new house-to-house registration exercise would be held next year and that list would be periodically sanitized by continuous registration cycles. Party scrutineers would accompany GECOM officials in registering and verifying persons during the house-to-house exercise.

“There is no padding of any list going on. There was never padding of list during my time,” he said.

Surujbally noted that the seven-member GECOM had unanimously agreed to share the publicly available database “within the context of collaboration with all entities that have the same purpose to uplift Guyana in relation to activities that are positive to our nation.”

Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield explained that the names and addresses of parents have been shared with the Ministry of Education at its request to help place students in schools after  examinations. “The Ministry, as a policy standpoint, said they would have to be guided by the addresses as provided by GECOM for these parents who run into problems as far as their addresses are concerned at the time of placement,” he said.  Lowenfield said only the names and addresses have been provided.

Lowenfield denied Rohee’s claim that GECOM has also dispatched its database to the Ministry of Social Protection. Instead, the Chief Elections Officer said the names of less than 100 persons were submitted to GECOM to verify whether they were 65 years and older and were eligible for Old Age Pension. No discrepancies were found, he said.

Dealing with PPP General Secretary, Clement Rohee’s claim that GECOM’s Registration Officers have been accepting ‘late registration birth certificates’ from applicants who are primarily middle-aged persons, Lowenfield said the use of such certificates was nothing new. He said decades-old persons, who have never had a birth certificate, could apply for one for the first time and use it to register with GECOM.

The PPP’s General Secretary lamented the sharing of the GECOM’s database of its list of registrants with the two ministries calling it unprecedented and warned of ‘skullduggery’ once again being the making.

PPP General Secretary Clement Rohee

PPP General Secretary Clement Rohee

He sought to rubbish the justification presented by GECOM Chairman, Dr Steve Surujbally, as ‘spurious’ and “creates ground for suspicion.

Rohee maintains that the sharing of the database “smacks of deep suspicion that GECOM database could be used for other sinister electoral purposes.”

The nation, he said, must be consulted on the “unsolicited release of registrants.” According to Rohee, “the PPP views as absolutely necessary, the need to validate the need to share its database.”

Rohee said too that the PPP is deeply concerned by recent actions on the part of GECOM through its Registration Officers, to accept as source documents, ‘late registration birth certificates’ by applications who are primarily middle aged persons.

He said these actions are dripping with suspicion, taken in the context of what he called the “rigging machine” in the form of the Ministry of Citizenship under the Ministry of the Presidency.

Conceding that a portion of the GECOM database is made public, Rohee said while this is the case, some confidential information is retained by the Elections Commission and this is not made public.

Rohee is adamant that the Ministry of Social Protection possess the institutional capacity to sanitise its own list of pensioners and as such the move to acquire GECOM’s database is uncalled for. On the matter of the sharing of the list with the Ministry of Education, Rohee said, this is “fraught with unimaginable implications for free and fair elections in Guyana.”

  • Col123

    This is nonsense !.. Why would anyone pad the voters list when the election can be won with a stroke of a pen. The PNC will require just a 1% margin. The days for 80 and 90 % of total votes for the PNC are over…

  • Pat Robinson Commissiong

    I was about to ask, “What implications does this have for free and fair elections?” when I noticed that the implications are “unimaginable”. So if they are unimaginable, how does Mr Rohee know that they exist. Or is Mr Rohee assuming that there MUST be some implications even if he can’t imagine what those implications can be? In that case we can now argue that there are implications for free and fair elections in just about anything GECOM, or indeed the Government, does. Even if we can’t imagine what they might be! Ought we now to object to everything because everything has implications for something even if we can’t imagine what those implications might be.
    I think Mr Rohee owes us an explanation that is more coherent than “unimaginable implications” of how he thinks this information could be used to achieve his fear, i.e., that the voting list will be padded.

    • SYL

      Look at Rohee’s face alone and you have to imagine the potential evil that may exist along with the anger for losing the elections. What have they done with Snr. Ramotar. Imagine! Why so many big fishes left once the coalition govt. started to govern? Imagine! Why once the DEA of USA got initiated officially in GT they cried foul, and said the banks are going to be in trouble . Imagine! Imagination is for Elton John , sing it Rohee.

  • SYL

    Corruption is everywhere Hilary of the democratic party of USA has been exposed by the FBI, so don’t even think about the word. Secondly the Caricom and overseas observers stated that the election was done in a democratic manner even though Mr Jadeo was called by the justice system for inciting racism. Criticism is good but must be accurate and possess balance. Finally you cannot compare Canada and USA with Guyana, too many differences.

  • SYL

    keep your BULL SHIT ! Its reality check in the corrupt republic like any where. Read about Brazil and the billions in the Antigua bank placed there by the members of the government.RMC