Can the Voters’ List be updated to international standard in 6 weeks?
By Sase Singh, MSc – Finance, ACCA
This is a question that the People’s National Congress (PNC) and the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) cannot agree on. The PNC is saying that the Claims and Objections (C&O) process cannot update the list to their satisfaction, while the PPP is saying from past experience, the C&O has done the job and there is no evidence of voter fraud after using the C&O process four times since 2008.
The National Register of Registrants (NRR) was developed in 2008 by a House-to-House Registration Process (H-2-H). In that process, all persons who were found at home and over the age of 14 years and to be Guyanese citizens by birth, descent or naturalisation or citizens from a Commonwealth country living in Guyana for one year or more were registered. That H-2-H process that was conducted in 2008 took 18 months long.
Therefore, this translates to the fact that if a new H-2-H process is started in August 2019, it will be completed around December 2020, which definitely means elections in 2021. Yet GECOM has the pluck to mislead this nation that it will provide a valid list by Christmas 2019 which is a total fabrication of the truth and at great variance from reality.
Fortunately for Guyana, since 2008, we have had a collection of best practices that facilitated several waves of Continuous Registration (CR). This CR was able to effectively and comprehensively update the list to the point where it is recognised as one of the cleanest in the entire Caricom family. The table below sourced from an international NGO called IDEA put currency to this fact.
But GECOM has more than CR to update the list. To supplement CR, at an appropriate time in the run-up to elections, the Preliminary List of Electors (PLE) is extracted from the NRR with the names of all persons who have attained the age of 18 years and not tagged as deceased. The C&O then kicks in to offer a secondary opportunity to update the list making it even more credible. In the C&O process, persons are provided with an alternative opportunity to object to names on the list by providing relevant evidence such as death certificates to support the removal of names. During that process too, persons who have attained the age of 18 years of age and think that they are Guyanese citizens by birth, descent or naturalisation or is citizens from a Commonwealth country living in Guyana for more than a year can put forward a claim to be added to the list. These claims and objections are allowed to occur usually over a six to eight-week period.
Subsequent to these claims and objections and after a GECOM investigation, the verified data is applied to the PLE which then transforms that list to the Revised List of Electors (RLE). The political parties still have a third opportunity to further clean the list, making it even more credible before the Official List of Electors (the Voters’ List) is extracted and published.
The facts will show that Guyana has gone through four comprehensive cycles similar to what I have outlined above since the 2008 H-2-H process. The facts remain there has not been one case of fraudulent voting, duplicate voting or denial of a legitimate voter who has put themselves forward for registration. Not one! So it is baffling to understand why there is this push for H-2-H when C&O has served this nation so successfully for the last 10 years? What is the agenda? Are there groups of people who are pushing this nation to 2021 elections in clear violation of the Constitution and in total disrespect for the Legislature and the Judiciary who have not ruled that Article 106 should be honoured?
The empirical evidence is there to prove that H-2-H will deregister people who are temporarily out of the country or out of their home village. What will this do to the gold miner who had to leave his home village for temporary work in the hinterlands for example? Isn’t it better to err on the side of a list that is not freezing out thousands of persons from the process? This happened in the USA when in the Georgia senatorial race, a black woman was denied more votes because unofficial barriers were placed on black voters in her stronghold – urban Atlanta. Is there an agenda in Guyana today to push people off the Voters’ List, who are not the supporters of the PNC?
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