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Guyana registers very low number of rejected ballots

Rejected Ballots at record low

A total of 4043 ballots were declared invalid and thus rejected during Elections 2015, says Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission, Dr. Steve Surujbally.

412,012 persons voted in this year’s elections. As such, the number of rejected ballots amounts to 0.098 percent of total votes cast. This is down from 1.32 percent in 2011, when the total number of rejected ballots stood at 4484.

Notwithstanding this fact, some may criticize the number since the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) + Alliance for Change coalition, having secured 207,200 votes over the Peoples Progressive Party Civic’s (PPPC’s) 202,694, won by a narrow margin of 4506. However, it is clear that even if all rejected ballots were accepted and cast in favour of the PPPC the party, by GECOM’s count, would still have lost the election.

The 2015 number is also lower than what was registered after elections in 2006 and 2001 – 5899 and 7218 respectively.

According to the International Institute for Demorcacy and Electoral Assistance’s (IDEA’s) global database on elections on democracy, Guyana, along with the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US), holds the 39th lowest percentage of rejected ballots globally. “It was excellent. This is the lowest number we have seen in several past elections,” a seemingly proud GECOM Chairman, Steve Surujbally remarked during an interview on Tuesday.

He attributes the decreased number of rejected ballots to the public education programme GECOM had embarked on.

Aside from GECOM’s individual initiative, the Guyana National Youth Council (GNYC) partnered with the elections body and executed its own “Vote Like a Boss” voter education campaign, which largely targeted first-time voters.

Blue Caps, as well as several other entities, also embarked upon voter-education initiatives throughout the election season. Surujbally believes that this year’s numbers could have been even lower, but said that some factors are beyond GECOM’s ability to remedy.

The database also noted that voter turnout in Guyana was 72.19 percent. Of a population of 735,222, 570,708 are registered. Of this number, 477,594 are of voting age. Voting age population turnout was noted to be 86.2 percent.