GECOM Commissioner Alexander proposes biometric system for voting

Last Updated on Tuesday, 10 May 2022, 14:54 by Denis Chabrol

Opposition Guyana Elections Commissioner Vincent Alexander is suggesting that a biometric system be introduced for voters to cast their ballots and so remove the possibility of persons voting in the names of the dead, migrants and other absent persons.

“I think, as a temporary, mechanism that a biometric feature should be introduced at the place of poll which feature requires that everyone who goes to vote is identified by his her fingerprint and only after that identification is complete that the person should be allowed to vote,” he told Demerara Waves Online News.

In light of a Court ruling that states that the National Database of the Register of Registrants cannot be altered by way of house-to-house registration, he said he has raised the idea of biometric system at polling stations but so far no formal proposal has been tabled. Mr. Alexander has requested a “complete review” of the electoral machinery during which he planned to make his proposal for a biometric component of the voting system. While he said the Commission has agreed in principle to conduct the review, he said the Commission appeared more preoccupied with Local Government Elections and there appeared to be no appetite to fix the system. “We have not confronted the issues that the Commission, I think should confront , if it is to provide an effective and efficient electoral system,” he said.

He believed that this is the best system in the circumstances where there are question marks about the cleanliness of the voters list. “In that way, though you may continue to have a voters list, that you would be able to ensure that people who are not entitled, people who are trying to impersonate people who are dead and/or absent from the country are not voted for,” he said.

Mr. Alexander previ0usly poured cold water on Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo’s announcement that the Representation of the People Act would be amended to allow for the removal of the names of dead persons.

The GECOM Elections Commissioner had said that Mr. Jagdeo’s proposal was not new as already the General Register’s Office shares the names of deceased persons with the Chief Election Officer of the Guyana Elections Commission. In that regard, Mr. Alexander had said that would not be sufficient to clean up the voters list as there would still be the names of persons whose deaths have not been registered or they had died overseas.

The opposition coalition of A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) continues to insist that the March 2020 general and regional elections were rigged by the now governing People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC).

On the other hand, the PPPC maintains that its Statements of Poll, those presented by GECOM to the court and the national vote recount shows that it won those polls fairly.  The opposition has resisted calls to present its Statements of Poll.