Home Letters André Brändli should be asking APNU-AFC about voter turnout, and Act 22/97
I write with reference to letters to the editor by Dr. André Brändli concerning turnout in the 2020 national and regional elections.
Brandli’s central claim is that the 2020 turnout is unusually high, namely “17.44% higher than the long-term average of 74.02%”, with calculations starting in 1992 (Kaieteur News 2/12/2022).
Editor, if I may, I think Dr. Brändli should be asking the APNU-AFC these questions, since they were in office when the elections took place. In so doing, he may also want to first contact Registrar General Raymon Cummings, who noted that the APNU-AFC had ordered 100,000 birth certificates through the Ministry of the Presidency (now Office of the President). This highly unusual and suspect order became known in the Auditor General’s Report 2021. It may interest Dr. Brandli that the birth certificates were procured via the single-source method.
To boot, for the 2020 elections, the Chief Elections Officer of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Keith Lowenfield, and his deputy Roxanne Myers were both highly sympathetic to the APNU-AFC. Their conduct during the 2020 elections is fully known, and further, evidence of attempts of electoral wrongdoing continue to emerge at the CoI currently underway.
Dr. Brändli suggests that biometric voter identification be put in place for the 2025 national elections. On the surface that is fine, except that, given the record of the PNC and APNU-AFC, efforts at strengthening the electoral process can and have backfired, as happened in 1997.
Justice Claudette Singh had, back in January 2001, ruled that “Act 22 of 1997, which amended the electoral law to make ID Cards the only voting prerequisite, had breached several statutes in the Constitution” (Guyana Chronicle 29/11/2020). This was even though all the parties had agreed to the ID card.
She ruled that “Act 22/97 is ultra vires, null and void Articles 59 and 159 of the Constitution”, and that the 1997 elections were not conducted in accordance with the provisions of the Representation of the People Act (ROPA), Chapter 1:03 and articles 59 and 159 of the Constitution, and therefore vitiated” (Ibid).
Dr. Brändli might find it helpful to review the ways in which Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan of the APNU-AFC used the January 2001 ruling by Justice Singh to play games with the 2020 National Recount.
While biometric ID voting procedures may very well work in other parts of the world, there is a high probability that, if used, the APNU and/or AFC might claim that it is unconstitutional, but this only if they lose.
Dr Randolph Persaud