Claims and Objections doing well with the PLE!

Dear Editor,

A careful look at the Guyana Elections Commission’s (GECOM) current Claims and Objections work confirms a swift and potent movement towards achieving the production of a very good List of Electors. On October 24, 2019, the Public Relations Department of GECOM reported over 13,000 completed transactions including new registrations, transfers and corrections using a smooth approach acceptable and embraced by most citizens. The results have realised reactions that emphasise the ‘irk’ of PNCR spin dancers at the Elections Commission, others in the Secretariat and leading orchestrators of the Government. There must be no deviation from the rule of law as it relates to necessary steps GECOM has to follow in establishing an acceptable Preliminary List of Electors (PLE). Chair of GECOM, Justice Retired Claudette Singh must be decisive and assertive in preserving the credibility of the process and integrity of the final list towards necessary free and fair elections. There have been persistent moves by PNC Commissioners at the Commission to contaminate or invalidate the results of the updates to the PLE, which GECOM can legitimately do following the end of this activity on November 4, 2019. Mr Vincent Alexander’s proposal to the illegal removal of 20,000 names of persons who have not uplifted identification cards is indecent, absolute rubbish, and tantamount to contempt of court given that the Chief Justice recently ruled to the contrary on this matter. The attempt by the Secretariat to use highly suspicious data from the controversial and unverified House-to-House is troubling and a serious matter of concern. Although the Chief Justice also ruled that it is not illegal for GECOM to utilise a House-to-House approach to address matters regarding the Register of Registrants, it is a known fact that whenever this approach is considered; the basis is a decision to scrap the existing list and to create a new base of registrants. There was absolutely no need to scrap the existing list, which the APNU/AFC and their cohorts deliberately ensured expired on April 30, 2019, using surreptitious manoeuvres. Further, the Claims and Objections approach has proven to be most speedy and effective towards a legal update of the Register of Registrants. It is now public knowledge that without a Chairman of GECOM being in place, Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield took it upon himself to impose a “$4 billion” House-to- House campaign on the citizens of Guyana. In so doing, he biasedly moved to counter and reject the Caribbean Court of Justice’s ruling consequent to the carried No- Confidence Motion, that the President remains in place with the primary function of ensuring that elections are held in three months or within such extended period approved by 75 per cent of members of the National Assembly. Mr Lowenfield’s run-off of the highly controversial House-to-House exercise has achieved nothing but extending the assault of the illegal APNU/AFC Government on the people of Guyana. Chair of GECOM, Justice Retired Claudette Singh deserves compliments for stopping the controversial House-to-House Registration and commencing the Claims and Objections using the Preliminary List of Voters extracted from the Register of Registrants. The Register of Registrants is fully acceptable since its life only ended in on April 30, 2019. Hence, the scrutineers from the APNU/AFC and the PPP/C are busy doing the field visits and verifying all the transactions. However, it is of note that in the Claims and Objections, GECOM’s staff are authorised to use solely the PLE to determine transfers and other transactions. It is therefore only this PLE, which the Secretariat can amend, by addressing the necessary verified changes for the update of the Register. It follows that the suggestion of a merger of information from the illegally conducted and unverified House-to-House is out of the question and must be set aside. While it is clear that the Chief Elections Officer has 7 days after the end of the Claims and Objections period to consider petitions for changes, logical concerns emerge that places any merger in breach of the legal framework. First is the fact that given the timeline taken by the contracted international firm to complete the first batch of the necessary cross-matching of fingerprints, the organisation would not complete the second half within 7 days of November 4, 2019, which signals the end of Claims and Objections. Second, the question as to whether the Secretariat, in areas of dispute, intends to give priority to the international cross-matching over the completed verification by all scrutineers at the ongoing Claims and Objections. I am aware that some GECOM staff were refusing to do transfers and registrations for persons who they claimed registered during the infamous Houseto- House. It took representations from the PPP/C Chief Scrutineer Mr Mustapha before several GECOM Offices corrected these issues. Hence, the GECOM offices are no longer turning back residents, after telling them that the controversial Houseto- House Registration will put their names on the final voters’ list. Some GECOM staff were deliberately confusing residents. Guyanese must be cognisant of the confusion mongers at GECOM. The PNC Commissioners are peddling false news that by Thursday, October 24, the public will be given an opportunity to view the entire list of persons that were registered during the House-to-House Registration exercise that was abruptly halted by the Chair of GECOM. This exercise would be an activity in futility because despite the encoding being completed, the cross-matching is yet to be completed. What would the publication of partial information reveal other than more confusion? Thus, it would be appropriate to conclude that the tactic of the PNC Commissioners is hell-bent on creating situations of confusion to frustrate the electorates and manipulate the process to pave the way for the possibility of an election petition at the conclusion of the already delayed elections in 2020. This Claims and Objections process is good enough to produce the final voters’ list for the March 2, 2020, National and Regional Elections and we must reject the PNC’s procrastination. Sincerely, Neil Kumar