The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has postponed Nomination Day for Local Government Elections (LGE), which was initially scheduled for December 12, 2022.
On Thursday, the Commission said that this decision was taken at a special meeting that very day, which was held to deliberate on a proposal submitted by the Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Vishnu Persaud to conduct an exercise to correct the Registers of Voters for LGE under Section 24A of the Local Authorities (Elections) Act, Chapter 28:03.
“Subject to further deliberations on this matter, which has been deemed necessary by the Commission, information on the way forward would be shared, in a timely manner, with all stakeholders,” GECOM said in a statement.
Earlier this week, the CEO sent a letter to GECOM Chairperson, Retired Justice Claudette Singh, seeking a 14-day extension to the period of Claims and Objections.
The missive proposed that GECOM should have an extended “Correction of Registers” period within the additional two weeks, before the holding of the LGE which were scheduled for March 13, 2023.
In this exercise, GECOM would facilitate the submission of claims for admission to the voters’ register, the correcting incorrect listings, and applications for name changes and transfers, objections and verifications of address. Notably, Persaud indicated in his letter that this proposal, if accepted, “would cause the conduct of Local Government Elections to be further delayed”.
A previous Claims and Objections exercise was conducted between August and September 2022. In October, GECOM had completed its Claims and Objections period, capturing more than 3000 new applicants who will be eligible to vote by October 31, 2022, as well as a total of 18 objections to names on the Preliminary List of Electors (PLE).
LGE, which are usually due every two years, were last held in 2018. At the last LGE in November 2018, the then People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Opposition had secured 52 of the 80 Local Authority Areas (LAAs). This followed the holding of the LGE in 2016, during which the PPP/C also claimed the majority of the LAAs.
In October, Local Government and Regional Development Minister Nigel Dharamlall had set Monday, March 13, 2023, as the date for hosting the long-overdue Local Government polls in Guyana. This was the earliest date that GECOM indicated the elections could be held.
Last week, APNU/AFC Chief Scrutineer Carol Smith-Joseph filed legal action against GECOM, challenging the process used to compile the List of Electors, or voters’ list, for the upcoming LGE.
The Fixed Date Application, which was filed at the High Court in Georgetown, lists GECOM, the Chief Elections Officer, the Commissioner of Registration, and the Attorney General as respondents. (G12)