Last Updated on Friday, 20 April 2018, 8:22 by Denis Chabrol
The People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR)- the largest party in the governing coalition- is calling for house-to-house registration as the only solution to clean up the voters roll, but she said her party was ready to contest the Local Government Elections (LGE) with a sanitized list of registrants.
“Let us truly sanitize the list of electors by having ‘house to house’ registration, hence all those who are alive will be on the list,” PNCR General Secretary, Amna Ally said in a statement.
The last house-to-house registration was conducted 10 years ago, and since 2008 the list has been updated through annual cycles of continuous registration. Persons 14 years and older must be registered and eligible voters- 18 years and older- are extracted from the national register and placed on the voters list.
Chief Elections Officer of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Keith Lowenfield told Demerara Waves Online News that it could take at least one year to plan, train personnel, procure materials and conduct fresh house-to-house registration and that exercise could cost as much as GY$1 billion. He indicated that so far the commission has not decided on whether to conduct house-to-house registration.
Asked if she would ask the pro-coalition GECOM Commissioners to push for house-to-house registration, Ally said that was a matter for the elections management authority. She said the PNCR was ready to contest Local Government Elections (LGE) with the current list of registrants, but hoped that a fresh list produced from house-to-house registration would be in place for the 2020 general elections. “I have no difficulty with that because I know that work is being done at the political list to sanitise the list as it,” she said.
“A house-to-house registration will take a long time. They may not be able to do it in time for Local Government but certainly for national
elections,” she added.
The PNCR General Secretary said house-to-registration should begin “as soon as GECOM is ready because the opposition is making a lot of allegations and it is very stupid and that’s the answer- house-to-house registration”. She noted that she has not put a time-line that such a registration must be done before Local Government Elections.
The opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) earlier this week noted that one of five GECOM-issued lists of persons who died between December 2015 and March 2016 included the names of persons whose names are not on the voters list- that is they were never registered.
However, the PPP said when it checked that list, many of those names of presumably unregistered persons were in fact on the voters list. “The PPP conducted a review of this particular list and to our surprise, we discovered a significant number of names which are in fact on the List of Registered Electors. This list is, therefore, not accurate. As a result, the names of deceased persons will continue to be on the List of Registered Electors,” the PPP said. That party emphasised that it is only the General Registrar’s Office that could legally certify who are dead.
The PPP urged GECOM to exercise greater care and due diligence in their attempts to sanitise the list. “We will continue to partner with GECOM and other stakeholders, in a concerted effort, to produce a List of Registered Electors that is accurate and whose integrity can withstand objective scrunity,” that party said.
Ally, in her statement, said the PNCR believes in having a sanitized and realistic list of electors and she suggested that Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo had presided over fraudulent elections. “It seems to me that the Opposition Leader continues to live in the past and reminisces of his ungodly acts in the electoral process.”
The veteran PNCR politician flayed Jagdeo for criticising and seeing a hidden motive behind the digitization of centuries-old birth and death records at the General Registrar’s Office. “This is not the PPP/C Government. This Coalition Government believes in authenticity. We do not have to meddle and tamper with official records of a country like the PPP/C did…Come on Mr. Opposition Leader, Guyana has advanced and is a more progressive country under the APNU+AFC. Do not be confused by the digitization of records (that is progress); accept that you did not have the vision to do it during your tenure,” she said.