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PPP challenges GECOM explanation on changes to particulars of 91,000 voters

The opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has challenged the legal basis for the Guyana Elections Commission’s (GECOM) changing of particulars of 91,000 electors stemming from the July-August house-to-house registration exercise, disagreeing that the information is unintentionally incorrect.

GECOM says the Commissioner of Registration, Keith Lowenfield, who is also the Chief Elections Officer, is legally empowered under Regulation 37 of the National Registration (Residents) Regulations Act to make any changes to any revised list within 21 days after certification once he is satisfied that any entry or omission in any list as revised is incorrect through inadvertence in the course of such revision.

“Firstly, the above regulation limits the Commissioner to correct errors on the list as a result of inadvertence. It was never intended to give powers to the Commissioner to make sweeping changes as is being done now (over 91,000),” the PPP said in a statement.

The PPP also questioned when the Commissioner of Registration would inform the relevant stakeholders and public, and also when did he inform the 91,000 persons that he intends to change their particulars. “If he has not done so as yet, when does he intend to do so in compliance with Regulation 37 of the National Registration (Residents) Regulations Act, Chapter 19:08, given that we are days away from the publication of the Official List of Electors?” the PPP said.

The regulation requires the Commissioner of Registration to display copies of changes to the list for inspection at any registration office and the Commissioner shall give to the person to whom such correction relates notice which may be sent by registered post to his last known address.

The PPP said it would “not respond to the other extraneous matters raised” in GECOM’s news release.

According to GECOM, it is confident in its system which is vital to ensure that persons who would have had changes made to their addresses, during the house-to-house registration exercise, is in accordance with the law and does not fall outside of the statutory period.

GECOM says it has a duty to ensure that the information of all electors are accurately reflected on the Official List of Electors to avoid confusion.

If that process is not done, GECOM says electors will have to travel to their old addresses to vote. This, GECOM says, can cause those persons to be displaced and disenfranchised which could result in low voter turnout and questionable election results.

“The Commission is urging the electorate to be extremely vigilant of the attempts by a few to create confusion, mischief and derail the level of public confidence in GECOM to conduct free, fair, transparent and credible elections. GECOM is working in the best interest of the electors,” the body said in a statement.