Empty lots found at addresses of some ‘new’ registrants – GECOM Commissioner
Field officers who conducted the verification exercise of the 20,000+ names listed as new registrants who were captured during the scrapped House-to-House (H2H) Registration process have found empty lots at the addresses on record for those persons.
This is according to Opposition-nominated Commissioner at the Guyana Elections Commission, Robeson Benn.
He told Guyana Times that they were informed by the party’s scrutineers who worked along with the GECOM staff during the exercise that there were instances where they went to the addresses to verify the names and were met with empty lots.
“There were no buildings on the lots where people were said to be…,” he related.
However, the Commissioner could not give an exact figure of how many such instances were recorded.
Benn indicated that the Commission had a meeting on Monday and they were updated on the five-day verification exercise. However, he said it information provided was not “very helpful”.
“I have been told that there is information elsewhere that perhaps some of these persons don’t exist. I can’t speak to the amount. It might be a smaller number. But I’m saying that’s the kind of breakdown we’re expecting from GECOM which should have been provided in the first place. But what we were provided with is just a general summary of the data – using what they confirmed and not confirmed and so on. But beyond that, no informative presentation of the data to be able to get to quick decisions on what to do with the information,” he contended.
Additionally, Benn noted that he has seen a few figures of some areas where there were in fact duplicates.
“…Despite all of the checks, which had been done twice to scrub the information which was taken [from the H2H exercise], there were persons who had been put down as being registered again,” he stated.
According to the Opposition Commissioner, duplication was one of the issued that his party, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), had raised in the arguments against the conduct of the H2H exercise, which he noted has in fact impaired efforts to do any elections preparations.
“There were strong arguments against the doing of the verification exercise from the other side, which I think by the findings of this exercise done on 16,000 alone, shows the type of problems we were warning against and expected would be there on our side,” he pointed out.
Nevertheless, the even-member GECOM Commission is expected to meet again on Friday to discuss the findings of the verification exercise.
Some 370,000 registrations obtained during the scrapped H2H exercise, which ran from July 20 to August and was objected to by the Opposition, 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. Recently, 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.
Last week, GECOM Chair, Justice Claudette Singh cast a tie-breaking vote in favour with the Opposition Commissioners to have a field verification exercise of all 20,555 names listed as new registrants.