Opposition suspicious over APNU’s push for sample survey
The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Opposition is concerned over a move by the Government through its Commissioner on the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to conduct a sample survey to further verify the data obtained during the House-to-House Registration data that was sent to Jamaica for cross-matching.
At his weekly press conference on Thursday, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo told reporters that after filtering out the duplicates by cross-matching the H2H data with the National Register of Registrants Database (NRRD), 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.
However, 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” are now to be re-verified and the Government-nominated Commissioners are now pushing to have a sample survey done to verify these names before they go on the voters’ list.
In fact, Commissioner Vincent Alexander on Wednesday noted that a survey will be conducted through random house-to-house visits across the country by GECOM staff and scrutineers from a sample size of 10 per cent.
But, according to Jagdeo, who is also the PPP General Secretary, they will not accept the survey.
“They want to do a sample of the 20,000, not to check a sample of the 20,000 names but do a sample. We will never accept that because if you sample the 20,000… and a 10 per cent sample they want to do. So you’ll have over 18,000 people who can get on the [voters’] list and will not be verified,” he noted.
The Opposition Leader further refuted claims by Alexander that a decision was taken by the seven-member GECOM Commission to conduct to sample survey. He pointed out that it does not make sense to use a sample process when they can go out and verify the entire data within a week’s time.
“This, we will never accept because it means contamination of the database… So we said you can refine [20,000 new registrants] further or let us go out and check the 20,000 people. Now, this could be done in a week and that’s leisurely. We could’ve completed this already, and leisurely check all the names,” he noted.
Referencing claims that 20,000 registrants were processed for a day during the scrapped H2H exercise, Jagdeo said it would be easier for the Commission’s staff along with the two parties to make checks to ensure the verification of these new registrants.
“We could’ve done that but they’re dilly-dallying all the time there, sitting on the 20,000 and pushing the timeline now, because soon we will have to put out the new revised voters’ list and now we’re at a stage, where they’re arguing a new position now [for the conduct of the sample survey],” Jagdeo stated.
Moreover, the PPP General Secretary outlined that his Party has been compromising with GECOM to allow the merging of the verified H2H data so that new registrants from that exercise are not disenfranchised.
However, he noted that the Party will return to its earlier position if the Government Commissioners continue to push the sample survey.
“If they want to do that then we will go back to our original position that none of the House-to-House data should be used because it means you’re gonna use it in an unverified fashion… And this indecent position pushed by Vincent Alexander and the others to use this unverified data makes me very suspicious because you could very well have people here who might be in the ‘18-year’ category when they should have been in the ‘14-year’ category or multiple registrations,” he contended.
The Opposition Leader further posited that “…this is something we’re paying close attention to. But I hope that the Chair of GECOM (Retired Justice Claudette Singh) understands that although we argued that the H2H data was not put to the Claims and Objections period – through the statutory process – we are prepared to accept all the new registrants once they’re verified from the House-to-House exercise but not a sampling of the new registrants”.
Nevertheless, the Opposition Leader noted that they will continue to be vigilant of these efforts by the Government-nominated Commissioners going forward.