Less than 50 percent turnout at Guyana’s Local Government Elections

Last Updated on Friday, 18 March 2016, 19:17 by Denis Chabrol

Less than 50 percent of registered voters turned out to vote in Friday’s Local Government Elections, the first such polls in since 1994, authorities estimated.

Various authoritative sources in Essequibo, Berbice and Georgetown estimate that the turnout was  in the 40s in most areas.

Polls closed at 6 PM, paving the way for the counting of votes and the posting of Statements of Poll at the 1,562 polling stations in the 72 town and neighbourhood councils.

Head of the Private Sector Commission’s (PSC) Observer Mission, Captain Gerry Gouveia told Demerara Waves Online News that while the process was smooth and there were no major reports of irregularities, the turnout was poor. “The turnout was very, very low. That is what we getting across the country,” he said.

Gouveia said one difficulty that some voters complained about was the fact that there was no one at the bottom of the ballot papers for them to vote for, but it simply meant that there were no individual contestants.

Chairman of the Guyana Elections  Commission (GECOM), Dr. Steve Surujbally told Demerara Waves Online News that all the training and retraining “paid dividends” and the polling day staff was very uniformed in the execution of their duties.

On the matter of the turnout,  Surujbally he said based on the hundreds of polling stations that Elections Commissioners visited in the urban and per-urban areas, “I would have wanted more people to turn out.”

Already, Surujbally was unprepared for GECOM to take any blame for voter-education, saying that it was not a mandatory responsibility by the elections management authority but a major function of political parties, organisations and candidates.  “Those who want to be elected should have gone and canvassed to their supporters and their people,” he said.

All the results should be in the latest by 10 O’clock Friday night (March 18, 2016) and results could be officially declared on Saturday.
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) says 507, 633 were registered to vote  for representatives of three political parties, 17 voluntary groups and 63 individual candidates in a mixed system of Proportional Representation and First Past the Post.