Last Updated on Sunday, 24 April 2022, 20:53 by Denis Chabrol
Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira said ‘findings’ from the national public opinion poll conducted by the International Republican Institute (IRI) on Guyana’s electoral reform, lacks integrity and does not reflect the views of Guyanese.
Minister Teixeira made it clear that any poll conducted in Guyana that involves humans, must go before the Ministry of Health’s Ethics Committee. In this regard, the government’s Department of Public Information (DPI) reported that no request was made nor approval granted.
Based on DPI’s report, the other areas of the poll such as those dealing with the general outlook about Guyana, inclusion and civic engagement, the availability of information, and migration. The poll was conducted for IRI by CID Gallup and was funded by the US National Endowment for Democracy.
On April 13, 2022, the IRI revealed its ‘findings’ from data it said was collected here between January 4 to 24, 2022, which state that a high percent of Guyanese believe electoral reforms are necessary.
Based on the face-to-face opinion poll conducted earlier this year , more than 80 percent of Guyanese see the need for electoral reforms, and although the vast majority of eligible persons voted in the 2020 general elections many of them do not trust the declared results.
According to the body, the poll was conducted in all regions of Guyana, through face-to-face interviews in respondents’ homes. The IRI claims that the samples consisted of some 1,500 Guyanese adults with a responses rate of 20 percent.
Minister Teixeira said a survey conducted with a 20 percent response rate cannot answer for all Guyanese, noting that after thoroughly assessing the survey, it only leaves one to consider whether the questions were asked in a way persons could clearly interpret.
She stressed that one must be convinced that a survey is done according to ethical, scientific and technical issues and that the methodology and the integrity of the survey must be above board.
“We are concerned how it is managed and because of COVID-19 that whether other means of ensuring that the sample that was used effectively so that people in Guyana between January 4 and 24, who were being sampled were able to answer,” the minister noted.
Minister Teixeira pointed out that 11 percent of the sample equivalent to 165 persons above 18 reported that there are not registered to vote in an election, while a further 29 percent said they did not vote in the 2020 elections.
“So how can you be coming up with a survey response that says that people were not registered to vote when in fact, they were below the age of 18. these are questions that come up when we look at the responses in the document,” she said
The minister added that there is a whole host of odd questions in the survey, pointing to one which asked about whether people would vote in the local government elections regarding the candidate.
“Well first of all we don’t have Local Government Elections, and secondly because elections haven’t been called for Local Government Elections, one doesn’t know who the candidates are or who they will be, so how do you know how to answer that question?”
They were questions also on whether persons felt they were voters’ discrimination which, Minister Teixeira deemed, “very ambiguous”, explaining that “voters’ discrimination and voters feeling that someone may have discriminated against them, by making comments on an ethnic basis are not the same thing.
Voters’ discrimination is very specific in its meaning where they don’t have access to the ballot, the don’t have access to the polling station, because they are being prevented from doing that base on the function of the Guyana Elections Commission and the way the polling stations were managed on election day,” she added.
And there were no such claims of persons being discriminated during the March 2020 General and Regional elections, the minister pointed out. In fact, the observers had declared the day as peaceful.
The document disclosed that four percent of the samples was taken from Region One, six percent from Region Two, 14 percent from Region Three, 42 percent from Region Four, seven percent from Region Five, 15 percent from Region Six, two percent from Region Seven, two percent from Region Eight, three percent from Region Nine and five percent from Region 10.
With Region Four occupying the largest space on the IRI survey’s geographical map, government is yet to locate at least one of the persons who participated at the exercise, the minister noted.
The previous People’s Progressive Party Civic-led administration had had a tense relationship with the IRI that had at one time seen the then project director’s work permit revoked and his departure requested. The youth-centered project had eventually been modified and he had been allowed to return.