H2H ‘new’ 20,000 registrants
As the People’s Progressive Party continues to scrutinise the list of “new” registrants in the scrapped House-to-House Registration, names of persons who were previously registered and others who are dead are on that list.
In two instances of previously registered persons, former Chancellor of the Judiciary, Retired Justice Cecil Kennard is listed as a ‘new’ registrant with his occupation being Chancellor. However, Justice Kennard retired many years ago and a search of the 2015 Official List of Electors and the Preliminary List of Electors (PLE) showed that he was on that list. In another instance, former Member of Parliament and Attorney-at-Law Jai Lall Kissoon is listed as a ‘new’ registrant. A perusal of the 2015 OLE and the PLE also shows that he is already registered. Additionally, the brother of a former Guyana Revenue Authority official, who died in 2007 is listed as a ‘new’ registrant.
Addressing the issue at a luncheon in New York on Saturday, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo said that the party has found that thousands of persons who are listed as “new” registrants are already on the PLE.
“Just to show how things evolve, I left Guyana Friday morning under the impression that we will have 20556 persons, who they claimed are new registrants that GECOM will [carry out the]verification of those persons before they’re added to the voters’ list or the NRR from which they will extract the OLE…By the time I’m driving to the airport, it changed. So Lowenfield [Keith] called Zulfikar [Mustapha] that the PPP will have to do the verification, not GECOM. And so that can result now in 20000 names being added to the voters’ list who are unverified…To get it down to 20,000 was another fight…We managed to get the numbers down from 37000 to 20000 after they did the fingerprint cross-matching…We found 50 per cent of the new people already in [the] list… they just found former Chancellor of the Judiciary, Cecil Kennard is now on the list of new registrants. He’s already on the PLE but part of the 20,000 new registrants,” the Opposition Leader said.
On Friday, despite discovering significant inaccuracies in the House-to-House (H2H) data that was cross-matched overseas, GECOM made a decision to move ahead with including some 20,000 names onto the voters’ list without verifying them. However, the Commission has now placed the onus on the Opposition – People’s Progressive Party – to verify the new registrants.
Some 370,000 registrations obtained during the scrapped H2H exercise were sent overseas to be cross-matched with the National Register of Registrants Database (NRRD) in order to filter out the duplicates.
However, it was recently reported that international digital security company, Gemalto, indicated that some 37,300 were new registrants who are eligible for voting, that is, they are above the age of 18.
But an internal check conducted by GECOM showed that approximately 17,000 of those “new registrants” were already on the voters’ list and some even voted in the past.
The remaining 20,000 “new names” were up for further verification. Earlier this week, it was reported that the Government-nominated Commissioners were pushing to have a sample survey done from a sample size of 10 per cent from the 20,000 to verify these new names before they go on the voters’ list – a process which the PPP Opposition had objected to.
In a statement on Friday, PPP Executive and former Attorney General Anil Nandlall indicated that the Elections Commission will not be verifying the names.
“Today [Friday], GECOM has decided that it will do no verification; that the PPP scrutineers alone will have to do the field verification checks in respect of these new intended registrants and that GECOM officials will only work in the offices. This is totally unacceptable,” Nandlall contended.
He noted that this decision by the Commission can only be viewed as retrograde and has the potential of impugning the integrity of the Official List of Electors (OLE) and by extension, the entire General and Regional Elections set for March 2, 2020.
“I can understand why the Government Commissioners may not want a 100 per cent verification exercise, because if this data is padded and fraudulent then the verification exercise will unmask it. However, the law mandates that not a single name must eventuate unto the OLE without verification. GECOM has an unconditional duty to ensure compliance with this legal requirement. Nothing short will suffice,” the former Attorney General asserted.
On August 27, GECOM announced that the controversial House-to-House Registration process would be halted on August 31.