Last Updated on Thursday, 7 November 2019, 22:53 by Denis Chabrol
General Secretary of the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday hinted that his party is likely to support the Guyana Elections Commission’s (GECOM) creation of a supplementary voters’ list of more than 20-thousand persons who have not collected their national identification cards.
“I gather that there is a compromise that will ensure enhanced verification but not remove people’s names from the voters’ list or remove their right to vote,” he told a news conference.
He made known his position one day after a proposed notice by Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield surfaced, stating that if those persons do not collect their cards by November 27, their names will be placed on a supplementary list. “I think we may be able to move forward in relation to that issue without causing Guyanese to lose their franchise which is crucial to us,” he said.
The Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield is expected to say in the newspaper notice this weekend that on elections day, registrants will be allowed to vote only if they verify their identification by producing a Guyana-issued birth certificate, a certificate of registration, a valid Guyana passport, a naturalisation certificate, or an adoption certificate.
Mr. Jagdeo says once the method does not open up the possibility of the elections being challenged, the PPP will support it. Noting that the PPP has debated the matter but is yet to come up with a formal position, the PPP General Secretary said his party was likely to support the system that would be put in place “once it is legal and it cannot be the source of a petition” similar to the challenge of the validity of the 1997 general elections although both parties had agreed to use voter identification cards.
Jagdeo has been encouraging overseas-based supporters to return to Guyana and vote in the March 2, 2020 general elections.
The Chief Elections Officer says those whose names will be put on the supplemental list will not be barred from voting. “On elections day, however, you would be allowed to vote provided your identification is verified by producing” a Guyana-issued birth certificate, a certificate of registration, a valid Guyana passport, a naturalisation certificate, or an adoption certificate.
Under Lowenfield’s hand and dated November 5, 2019, the GECOM notice is expected to say it is giving registrants until November 27, to go to any GECOM office serving their area to uplift their ID cards.
Elections Commissioner, Vincent Alexander is on record as saying more than 20,000 identification cards dating back from 2008 to last year’s registration cycle have not been collected.
Lowenfield is expected to state in the newspaper notice that if those persons do not collect their card, this “will result in your names being removed from the Official List of Electors (OLE) and placed on another list which would be supplemental to the Official List of Electors.”
Lowenfield is expected to inform registrants that although their names may be removed from the voters’ list to a supplemental list, “your registration records in the National Register of Registrants (NRR) will not be cancelled.”
The High Court ruled in August that it would be unconstitutional for the names of persons to be removed from the NRR or for a new NRR to be replaced by a fresh list out of a house-to-house registration process.