GECOM warns of impostors visiting homes to ‘conduct registration’

The Guyana Election Commission is warning persons to be on the lookout for imposters who are visiting homes on the pretext of being employees of the GECOM and seeking information.
“It is imperative that we make it abundantly clear that GECOM is not currently engaged in any such exercise, nor has the Commission authorized anyone – employee or otherwise – to collect information from any person for any reason whatsoever through house -to-house visits,” a statement from the Commission detailed on Thursday.
GECOM went onto state categorically that while it is not conducting house-to-house registration, its staffers do conduct house visits as an integral component of the ongoing registration exercise.
The Registration Staff and Scrutineers are required to visit the given residential addresses of applicants for registration to verify that those persons actually live at the addresses they would have provided.
“Such visits are made only after agreement between the applicant and the concerned GECOM staff would have agreed on a date and time,” it was noted in the missive.
According to GECOM, its staff and scrutineers are required to display their respective identification and accreditation badges throughout all such visits.
Against this backdrop, the general public is cautioned not to recognise anyone without GECOM identification as being representatives of this Commission.
“In view of the foregoing, citizens are urged to be extremely cautious and not to provide any information to those persons purporting to be GECOM representatives, as their motive is unknown.”
Moreover, persons are asked to contact GECOM on telephone numbers 223-9653, 225-5808, or 225-5868 to report or clarify any concerns.
The Election Commission commenced the continuous registration of eligible persons on Monday, March 9 and this exercise will run until May 29, 2022.
So far, almost 7000 new voters and over 12,000 persons in all have been registered and according to one GECOM Commissioner, this is indicative that the exercise is going well.
Based on figures provided by GECOM, the continuous registration exercise resulted in 12,896 persons being registered and a total of 17,062 transactions.
In an interview with Guyana Times, GECOM Public Relations Officer Yolanda Ward explained that this figure includes 6,620 persons who are 18 years and older and are therefore eligible to vote.
The remainder was 6276 persons between the ages of 14 and 17 years and they would be provided with identification cards once they have gone through GECOM’s procedures. They will vote when they eventually reach 18 years of age.
Meanwhile, the other transactions included 683 persons who did transfers to new addresses, some 1,997 who did changes and corrections to their particulars and another 1,194 persons who did replacement IDs.
In an interview with this publication, Government-nominated GECOM Commissioner Bibi Shadick noted that while the exercise was going well so far, it is early days yet.
Shadick pointed out that a surge of persons towards the end of the exercise was likely.
“We get a progress report every week… so far, it’s going well. But I do know people. They don’t go right at the beginning. They know they got 12 weeks, so they’ll wait until 12 weeks are done. But I do know, too, because I have a law office and people come in to notarise (documents) and so, that people are getting their names in order so that they can go get registered,” she said.
The last time GECOM conducted continuous registration was in 2019, in preparation for the March 2020 General and Regional Elections.
The continuous registration process, which is being done at all 28 permanent registration offices, is necessary to update the List of Electors in place by October, in order for Local Government Elections (LGE) to be held this year.
More than $750 million has been set aside in Budget 2022 for the preparations to be undertaken by GECOM for the hosting of LGE this year. This money is part of an overall $4.1 billion allocation to GECOM in Budget 2022, and was examined and approved by the National Assembly during its consideration of the 2022 Budget Estimates.
Included in the $783 million for LGE is a more-than-$300 million increase in “other goods and services purchased”, which jumped from $250.8 million in 2021 to $575.9 million in the 2022 Budget.
LGE are constitutionally due every two years in Guyana and were last held in 2018. However, given the fiasco that played out following the 2020 General and Regional Elections, the Local Government polls were deferred to 2021, and again to this year.
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.