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Start of house-to-house registration delayed

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has pushed back its house-to-house registration exercise that was scheduled to begin this week, officials said Thursday.

A senior official of the electoral management authority told Demerara Waves Online News that the delay was due to the procurement of materials not being finalised.

Another source added, “all the elements did not flow in accordance with the strict timelines”. The source added that there were some “hitches” related to acquiring materials. The source said only the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield would be aware of the new commencement date.

That, according to the source, would now see the house-to-house registration exercise commencing in another two weeks. However, the GECOM official assured that that would not cause a slippage in the timetable that could see the authority being ready to conduct general elections in November, 2019.

GECOM’s Public Relations Officer, Yolanda Ward described the delay as “no major pushback” and “the commission will announce the time”.

Word that the house-to-house countrywide registration first surfaced when Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo said GECOM would not be commencing the exercise as had been scheduled. He said Executive Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Zulfikar Mustapha called the Chief Elections Officer who confirmed that the registration exercise would not begin in early June.

The PPP, through a United Kingdom-based Guyanese pensioner, has since challenged the constitutionality of house-to-house registration on the grounds that such a process would see thousands of overseas-based Guyanese being taken off the existing voters’ list and being unable to return to cast their ballots.

The National Assembly recently approved GYD$3.4 billion for GECOM to prepare for general elections. Guyanese going to the polls before August, 2020 largely depends on two pending decisions by the Caribbean Court of Justice on the validity of last December’s no-confidence motion and President David Granger’s unilateral appointment of James Patterson as GECOM Chairman although Jagdeo had proposed 18 names.