GECOM to start continuous registration exercise on Jan 3
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) will be commencing a continuous registration exercise to cater for new registrants as well as registered persons who want to make changes or corrections to their information.
In a statement on Friday, GECOM said this exercise will start on January 3, 2023 and run until May 31, 2023 at all of its permanent Registration Offices in the ten Administrative Regions across the country. During this registration exercise, the Elections Commission said, any person who will be 14 years and older by June 30, 2023; is a Guyanese citizen by birth, descent or naturalization; or is a citizen from a Commonwealth country who has been living in Guyana for one year or more, can apply for registration, provided that he/she was never registered.
Additionally, existing registrants who are desirous of updating their records, such as a request to correct or change their names, date of birth, occupation and update their addresses are being advised that those transactions would also be facilitated during this exercise.
GECOM said persons desirous of conducting any registration transaction, whether new registration or changes/corrections to their particulars, are required to visit the GECOM Registration Office responsible for their area of residence with the relevant source documents.
These documents include original birth certificate, valid passport, adoption certificate, Naturalisation Certificate or Certificate of Registration, and Deed Poll along with original birth certificate (if applicable) in the case of making applications for new registration.
For those wanting to make changes/corrections, they are required to present their original marriage certificate, marriage certificate with decree absolute for divorced women, deed poll with birth certificate, or a new original birth certificate reflecting the new name in the case of application for change/correction of name and other particulars.
Registration transactions can be done during the official working hours, which are: Mondays to Thursdays 08:00hrs – 12:00h then 13:00h – 16:30h and on Fridays 08:00h – 12:00h then 13:00h – 15:30h.
The Elections Commission three weeks ago postponed Nomination Day for Local Government Elections (LGE) to facilitate this continuous registration exercise.
In October, it was announced that LGE was set for March 13, 2023, with Nominations Day initially slated for December 12, 2022, but GECOM has said that at a special meeting on December 8, a decision was taken by the seven-member Commission, based 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,” the electoral body had stated.
Prior to that meeting, the CEO had sent a letter to GECOM Chairperson Justice (retired) Claudette Singh, seeking a 14-day extension of 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.
Persaud had indicated in his letter that this proposal, if accepted, “would cause the conduct of Local Government Elections to be further delayed”.
GECOM had previously conducted a cycle of Continuous Registration from March to May 2022, and a Claims and Objections Exercise from August to October 2022. That Claims and Objections exercise captured 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).
Nevertheless, this new registration exercise that will get underway next week is in response to a legal challenge filed by the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Opposition, which had been calling for a clean voters’ list.
APNU/AFC Chief Scrutineer Carol Smith-Joseph filed legal action against GECOM earlier this month, challenging the process used to compile the List of Electors, or voters’ list, for the upcoming local Government polls.
However, Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall, SC, says the Opposition is employing a series of delaying tactics to disrupt the holding of the long overdue LGE.
This was after the Coalition claimed that Local Government and Regional Development Minister Nigel Dharamlall has no power to set boundary demarcations.
According to Nandlall, now that the Government-nominated Commissioners at GECOM agreed to do what they want, and will conduct a new registration exercise, the Opposition has found another issue to pick at as part of its delaying tactics.
“Today, when they realize that [the legal challenge] now would be rendered moot, or be evaporated, they now come with a new issue now, and that is a question of Ministers don’t have the power to demarcate boundaries. This is another attempt at stalling. They don’t want the Local Government Elections, so they will come with all kinds of shenanigans – all types of and all manner of foolish arguments to detain and delay the Guyana Elections Commission. I am calling on the Guyana Elections Commission to proceed to hold Local Government Elections that are lawfully due under the laws of Guyana,” the AG had stated.
The Attorney General pointed out that GECOM has a duty to hold elections in accordance with the time stipulated by law, unless Parliament extends that time, which has not been done.