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PPP demands wide consultations on electronic vote counting

The opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) on Tuesday called for wide consultations and the full involvement of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) in deciding whether votes should be counted electronically.

“The Party is of the view that introduction of machines for E-counting must be discussed with all the stakeholders in a timely and transparent manner. Further, such offers must not remain exclusive to the Granger-led APNU+AFC Coalition Administration,” the PPP said in a statement.

The PPP’s position came just about one week after newly-accredited American Ambassador, Perry Holloway expressed support for E-tabulation in order to reduce the delay in declaring official results. Local Government Elections could be held early next year.

Holloway’s pitch came more than one year after Canada supported a company to show off its electronic tabulation machines to GECOM and other stakeholders.

Electronic tabulation machines, along with the PPP’s call for enhanced biometrics and e-voting, that party noted, would require amendments to the relevant laws.

“GECOM must be integrally involved at all stages in respect of these offers and must,in the final analysis, be a key decision-maker on the matter, not the government alone,” the PPP added.

The PPP was instrumental in pressuring the then government before the 1992 general and regional elections in securing major electoral reforms. They included counting of the votes at the place of poll, a new voters’ list compiled on the basis of house to house enumeration, expansion of the Elections Commission and the selection of a new Chairman and the presence of international and local observers to be at polling stations.

Now, the PPP wants the GECOM Secretariat to fall under the purview of the Commission to enable the Commission to give the Secretariat general orders and directions; recruitment of GECOM’s key election officials such as Returning Officers and Presiding Officers and Poll Clerks through improved transparent and impartial practices and a new voters’ list to be compiled on the basis of a fresh house to house enumeration.

That opposition party also wants a review the process that allows for voting by the Disciplined Services, amendment of the relevant sections of the Representation of the People’s Act to allow for the enactment of appropriate legislation to facilitate implementation of agreed reforms and the selection of a new Chairman of GECOM.

“The demand for these reforms comes at a time when GECOM’s  ability to conduct free and fair elections is being called into question once again as was the case prior to 1992 and all subsequent elections by the PNC who has constantly questioned GECOM’s ability to conduct free and fair elections, savefor the May 11 elections, when through the instrumentality of GECOM, the APNU+AFC was catapulted into office,” said the PPP.

The PPP says it is of the view that just as good sense had prevailed to accept electoral reforms prior to 1992, in the same way, a spirit of cooperation and compromise should prevail to allow for unfettered implementation of fresh reforms for future elections in Guyana.