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Opposition coalition asks High Court to scrap preliminary voters list for Local Govt Elections

Last Updated on Saturday, 3 December 2022, 0:26 by Denis Chabrol

The opposition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) on Friday asked the High Court to block the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) from using the existing voters list for the March 13 Local Government Elections on the grounds that it was extracted from the list for general and regional elections, and does not take consider residency of electors.

“A Declaration that the Guyana Elections Commission’s failure to comply with Sections 12, 13, 14, 20, 22 and 23 of the Local Authorities (Elections) Act Cap 28:03 and the said Act in general, renders the Register of Voters for Local Government Elections, null, void and of no legal effect,” states the court papers seen by Demerara Waves Online News.

The court action was filed by APNU+AFC Chief Scrutineer Carol Smith Joseph, who is also a member of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), the major party in APNU.

Relatedly, Ms Joseph wants the High Court to set aside GECOM’s order for the purpose of extracting a list of electors for LGE and set aside the purported extraction of a voters list by the Chief Election Officer on the ground that they are both beyond the power and it is unlawful;

With LGE scheduled to be held on March 13, 2023, she wants the High Court to urgently hear her case against the seven-member Guyana Election Commission (GECOM),  Chief Election Officer, who is also the Commissioner of Registration, and the Attorney General.

Ms Joseph is asking the High Court to declare that GECOM acted beyond its powers and unlawfully in not compiling the preliminary voters list for local government in keeping with the Local Authorities Act, and purportedly compiled the preliminary voters list for LGE  by extracting the list of electors from the official voters list for the 2020 general and regional elections;

The APNU+AFC Chief Scrutineer is further seeking a High Court declaration that GECOM is required to act in accordance with the Local Authorities Act in compiling the preliminary voters list, and preparing a register of voters for use in elections for local authority areas. In that regard, she hopes that the High Court will set aside the extraction of a list of electors by the Chief Election Officer

An Order setting aside the purported extraction of a List of Electors by the Chief Election Officer and or the Commissioner of National Registration pursuant to an Order No. 55 of 2022 issued by the Guyana Elections Commission for the extraction from a List of Electors for Local Government Elections pursuant to Section 5 (6) of the Elections Law Amendment Act No. 15 of 2022 on the ground and for the reason that such extraction pursuant to Order No. 55 of 2022 is ultra vires and unlawful.

A Declaration is also being sought for GECOM’s to compile the Register of Voters in accordance with the Local Authorities (Elections) Act  is a breach of and derogation from the Constitutional principles set out in Articles 12 and 71 of the Constitution as well as the Constitutional duty imposed on the Guyana Elections Commission by Article 162 of the Constitution.

The APNU+AFC Chief Scrutineer is further asking the High Court to declare that the voters register for Local Government Elections is not reasonably accurate or credible thereby making the same unconstitutional, unlawful, null, void and of no legal effect.

On the matter of residency, the High Court will have to decide whether an Election Laws amendment in 2000 is unconstitutional because it purportedly confers discretion on GECOM the authority to exercise discretion on whether an elector is a resident in a local authority area or is “ordinarily resident” in keeping with the law.

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