…persons convicted could face $5M fines, 5 years in prison
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has taken a decision to call in the Guyana Police Force over cases of fraudulent duplicate registration encountered during the ongoing continuous registration exercise being carried out ahead of the Local Government Elections (LGE).
In a statement issued on Wednesday, GECOM declared that at least three cases of duplicate registration occurred during the ongoing continuous registration cycle. Duplicate registration occurs when a person who is already registered to vote applies to register again using fraudulent documents.
It is an offence under the National Registration Act, and any person convicted thereof is liable to be fined up to $5 million and imprisoned for five years.
According to GECOM, an internal investigation done by the secretariat has flagged the duplicate cases.
This decision was taken consequent upon deliberations on a report on internal investigations that were conducted in relation to the duplicate registration transactions. These investigations revealed that three (3) persons who were already registered applied again for registration using different source documents with different dates of issue, names, and dates of birth, GECOM has said.
GECOM further informed that all cases of duplicate registration, including these ones, would be reported to the Guyana Police Force.
Other registration offences include defacing of an ID Card, falsely objecting to a name on the Voters’ List, and impersonation of a GECOM official.
In view of the foregoing, GECOM has listed registration offences that are included in the National Registration Act: Deliberately providing false information; Fraudulently obtaining an Identification Card; Fraudulently using an Identification Card; Falsely alleging the loss or destruction of an Identification Card; Applying for a new card while being in possession of an Identification Card; Presenting false information or documents containing false information for registration; or withholding information about an existing registration.
Other offences include knowingly applying to be registered more than once; Permitting or inducing another person to use an Identification Card in order to impersonate a registered person; Destroying or defacing an Identification Card or documents; Making false objections or statements in relation to any entry on a list; Impersonating a GECOM registration official; Forging or counterfeiting an Identification Card; lending or otherwise furnishing any Identification Card for impersonation; Selling or attempt to sell, or purchasing or attempting to purchase, an Identification Card.
GECOM went on to urge all applicants for registration, change of name(s) and corrections to their registration details to ensure that they are aware of, and abide by, the registration law when seeking to conduct transactions.
GECOM is firmly on the electoral path, having adopted a work plan from Chief Elections Officer Vishnu Persaud for the holding of Local Government Elections.
GECOM Commissioner Sase Gunraj has revealed that over 4700 persons have been recorded in the continuous registration exercise as at February 1. They include 613 persons who sought transfers and 736 persons who sought changes and corrections.
Additionally, he informed the media that May 22, 2023 has been set as the date for persons to come of age and qualify to vote.
Only last week, GECOM had decided to adopt a report from the CEO, confirming changes to constituency boundaries and moving the Commission closer to holding elections – though not without a fight from the Opposition-nominated members of the Commission.
It was decided last year that fourteen areas in which boundaries were modified by the former APNU/AFC Government would be reverted in the lead up to the Local Government Elections when they are held, to allow for better representation.
Local Government and Regional Development Minister Nigel Dharamlall had announced at a press conference in November that changes were made after consultations with communities and residents in the interest of democracy building.
While the decision was made to revert boundaries to where they had been before they were changed in the year 2016, other communities which were previously not captured will be placed under townships and Neighbourhood Democratic Councils. In some areas, NDCs would also be merged or split.
GECOM was initially expected to hold LGE on March 13, 2023. More than $750 million was set aside in Budget 2022 for preparation to be undertaken by GECOM for the hosting of LGE. This money was part of an overall $4.1 billion allocation to GECOM in Budget 2022. (G3)