“Bloated” list argument is but simply the latest from that same genus

Dear Editor,
I refer to Mr. Sherwood Lowe’s letter which is in response to my missive in which I exposed the fallacy of Mr Aubrey Norton and the APNU/AFC’s argumentation that the voters’ list is bloated. I would be in remiss to leave Mr. Lowe’s equally fallacious narrative on the public record without a repudiation.
Mr Lowe accuses me of conveying “the false impression” of the time that the APNU/AFC indicated its readiness to engage in constitutional and statutory reforms regarding residency vis-a-vis registration and voting. Indeed, he quotes Mr Norton at an August 2022 press conference expressing a willingness to do so. In my letter, I did not offer a timeframe in respect of Mr Norton’s expressed preparedness to engage in constitutional reform on the issue, but as Mr Lowe volunteers August 2022 as a date, I will use the same to say that it presumably took Mr Norton 5 months (from April to August 2022) after his assumption of office as Leader of the Opposition to publicly recognise that constitutional change is required to achieve the removal of the alleged impugned names from the voters’ list.
However, what I did say is that, at his press conference held on 8th November 2022, Mr. Norton, for the first time, provided the public with an insight to enable an understanding of what he characterises as “bloat” on that list. Mr Norton disclosed that Guyanese not in Guyana constitute this “bloat”. I proceeded to then make the quintessential point that names that are constitutionally authorised to be on that list, and therefore lawfully there, can never be considered “bloat”, and that Guyanese who are 18 years and over on that list are lawfully there, irrespective of where they may be located. That dead persons are disqualified from being on that list, and ought to be removed forthwith, is without dispute.
The reference by Mr Lowe to the constitutional and legal changes effected in 1990 constitutes an utter red herring, and does not assist the discourse. Guyanese would recall that those changes were implemented after almost 30 years of political agitation and international pressure following a series of undisputed fraudulent elections dating back to 1968, and were designed to dismantle an institutionalised election-rigging machinery installed by the PNC dictatorship, and to replace it with a modern democratic architecture that would conduce to free and fair elections. Three decades hence, and after a comprehensive overhaul of the electoral machinery, including the implementation of a system of continuous registration from which the voters’ list is extracted, supported by both the PNC and the AFC, Guyana can now boast of an electoral infrastructure bearing democratic credentials similar to those which obtain in the Caribbean, and indeed the rest of the Commonwealth.
Like its Caribbean counterparts, inherent in this cyclical continuous registration system in Guyana are mechanisms which mandate the cleansing of the list of disqualified electors.
Unfortunately, like his leader, Mr Lowe proceeds upon the vacuous hypothesis that non-resident Guyanese are ‘ineligibles’ on that list. However, he offers no explication on how he has arrived at this destination, nor does he offer a rationale for such discriminatory treatment against Guyanese simply because of their absence from Guyana. Nevertheless, like his leader, he advocates for their removal from the list. It is now consensual that only a constitutional change can disqualify those Guyanese from being on the list. I forcefully assert that to deny thousands of Guyanese that cherished right to vote is a monumental deprivation of a fundamental freedom of such magnitude that it mandates public consultation. Anything less would be a human rights damnation. APNU/AFC professes a preparedness to do sans public consultation, yet we hear not a murmur from the various civil society organisations proclaiming to champion the human rights of Guyanese. Their stony silence condemns them in complicity with the perpetrators.
Great moment is made of the size of the voters’ list vis-a-vis the total population. A quick scan across the Caribbean would reveal a population and voters’ list ratio of striking similarity to Guyana’s. That reality is simply an outward characteristic of the continuous registration system in jurisdictions with an overseas travelling demographic, and where residency is neither a requirement to register nor vote.

Mr Lowe next argues that the right to vote “is constrained by certain restrictions and obligations (for example, you must register to vote) to ensure the election results truly reflect the will of the people”. Certainly, one cannot find fault with such reasoning. But the persons who are on the list are registered to vote, and therefore must be allowed to vote for the election results to truly reflect the will of the people. Paradoxically, it is Mr. Lowe and his party who are advocating for deregistration of these persons and their disentitlement from voting!
The position adopted by APNU/ AFC on the voters’ list is simply another one of their political travails which will catapult the Guyanese population into another ordeal of anguish and into the throes of confusion as they (APNU/AFC) misinterpret and misconstrue the law and the Constitution in yet another political gimmick which they believe will deliver them electoral victory. In the process, anyone who disagrees with them, including the diplomatic community, will be visited with vitriolic and visceral attacks. The show is already on the road. The High Commissioner of the United Kingdom is the latest casualty. The frequency with which the APNU/AFC have engaged in such vulgarity has rendered them immune to public condemnation.
Readers would vividly recall the public frustration and turmoil created by President David Granger’s preposterous interpretation of the clear language of Article 162 of the Constitution, which culminated in the unlawful appointment of James Patterson as the Chairman of GECOM in 2016. This provision of the Constitution owed no interpretative difficulties hitherto. A similar idiotic interpretation was placed on Article 106 of the Constitution when the no-confidence motion was passed against the Coalition Government in December 2019. Arising therefrom was the legal and mathematical novelty of 33 not being a majority of 65, which will now remain one of the most unique expositions of illogics offered by Guyana to universal jurisprudence. Neither has there been a recovery by the Guyanese people from the vicious mental and emotional scars inflicted during the 5 months which followed the March 2020 General Elections. Almost every day during that horrendous period, Guyana and the world were tortured with one imbecilic legal contention after another, followed by equally inane litigious forays all the way to the apex court. I can provide more examples, but I think the point is made.
The “bloated” list argument is but simply the latest from that same genus.

Yours faithfully,
Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC MP
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs