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GECOM confirms 90-day house-to-house registration from July 20; election preparations begin

Pro-coalition elections commissioners Desmond Trotman, Vincent Alexander and Charles Corbin.

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on Friday confirmed that house-to-house registration would begin on Saturday, July 20 and end in another three months.

GECOM spokeswoman, Yolanda Ward said the teams have been “doubled” with the aim of completing the house-to-house registration process in “the shortest possible time” and there was a likelihood that it could be wrapped up ahead of the three-month timeframe.

The elections management authority also said preparations for general elections have also begun. “While the Commission is undertaking the registration exercise, concurrent operational activities for the preparations of General and Regional Elections are underway.”

Upon conclusion of the registration exercise, GECOM said a new National Register of Registrants Database (NRRDB) which is reflective of the current Guyanese population will be created. Subsequently, the Official List of Electors (OLE) will be extracted for the purpose of conducting General and Regional Elections. 

The announcement by GECOM ended days of speculation about whether the registration process would in fact begin based on gazetted orders by then GECOM Chairman, James Patterson whose appointment has since been deemed flawed and unconstitutional. Patterson has already resigned, triggering a search for a successor from a list of six nominees that are acceptable by the President.

Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo on Friday said most likely his People’s Progressive Party (PPP) would move to the courts to cite Chief Election Officer, Keith Lowenfield with contempt for the Caribbean Court of Justice’s (CCJ) order that suggested that elections must be held within three months on the passage of a no-confidence motion.

At the same time, Jagdeo said if GECOM went ahead with house-to-house registration, his party would deploy representatives to be vigilant against any skulduggery.

PPP-nominated election commissioners Sase Gunraj Bibi Shadick and Robeson Benn.

The PPP had hoped that a new GECOM Chairman would have presided over a meeting of the bipartisan seven-member commission and overturned a decision by the then Patterson-led commission decision on February 19 which led to Order No. 25 of June 11th,  2019 being gazetted.

Word of that order only surfaced in recent days, and the PPP said it had not been officially informed of the intended exercise to allow it to assign party representatives to the process. The People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) on Friday said it fully endorsed GECOM’s decision to hold house-to-house registration.

“The People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) welcomes the Guyana Elections Commission’s (GECOM’s) independent decision to commence house-to-house registration, starting tomorrow, Saturday 20th July 2019. This decision is completely consistent with both the Constitution and the CCJ’s ruling that we need to hold fair and credible elections in the shortest possible time,” the PNCR said.

The PPP has said that its three election commissioners had never participated in a decision to conduct house-to-house registration. Then Chairman Patterson and the three pro-coalition commissioners had decided to do so.

The CCJ has labeled the David Granger-led administration “interim” and “caretaker” and has said that the President and Cabinet ought to have resigned upon passage of the no-confidence motion, and the President and government remain in office to largely prepare for a general election.

Registration is a legal requirement according to the National Registration Act, Chapter 19:08 and therefore all eligible persons are mandated to register. House-to-House registration is a new registration exercise and therefore all eligible persons must register even if they were previously registered. 

Guyanese citizens by birth, descent, naturalization or registration, 14 years and older by 31st October 2019 or a citizen of a Commonwealth country living in Guyana for a period of no less than one year preceding the qualifying date are all eligible for registration. 

Residents are urged to have the relevant documents required for registration ready and be on the lookout for GECOM’s registration officials in their area. These documents include an original birth certificate, a valid passport, naturalisation certificate, certificate of registration, adoption certificate and deed poll or marriage certificate, if applicable. 

For the purpose of this exercise, each eligible person will only be registered where he/she resides. Residences includes dwelling places such as homes, residential institutions such as hospices and homes for youth and the elderly. Registration will not be done at GECOM Registration Offices. 

For more information, persons can visit the GECOM’s website at www.gecom.org.gy, email [email protected], follow Guyana Elections Commission on Facebook or call 225-0277-9 or 223-9653.