Revised List of Electors includes unverified ‘new’ registrants
…over 650,000 voters on list
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has made a decision to go ahead with the publishing of the Revised List of Electors (RLE) without any additional field verification for those persons that could not be found during the recent verification exercise.
This was confirmed on Tuesday by GECOM Public Relations Officer Yolanda Ward, who revealed that the list is already available on their website. She also noted that persons can check and visit GECOM offices in their area with their “pink slip” (slip given during registration) to make any necessary changes.
“The posting of the RLE in the field will commence very shortly. That is expected to conclude on January 4, 2020. So before the end (Tuesday), the PDF version of the RLE will be available on GECOM’s website,” she informed this publication.
“The RLE has been posted for any public scrutiny and to correct any information within the 21 days’ period. Therefore, where changes were not made, persons should visit the registration office in their area with the ‘pink slip’ from 4th January to inform and update accordingly. The final product would be in the Official List of Electors,” Ward subsequently explained.
It is understood that the Revised List of Electors contains a total of 661,378 names. According to Ward, the RLE will contain everyone captured during the Claims and Objections and the house-to-house verification.
It will also include the over 16,000 names from house-to-house that were flagged and led to GECOM launching a 5-day field exercise to verify them. Some of those persons were not found; however, they will be included.
When contacted, Government-nominated Commissioner Charles Corbin declined to comment on the issue. However, at least one GECOM Commissioner voiced his disapproval. According to Opposition-nominated Commissioner Sase Gunraj, while he does not agree with the move, steps will be taken to have these names monitored on Election Day.
“I felt that the persons who were not verified should not be on the RLE. But what is going to happen, notwithstanding the fact the Chairman has overruled that, we are putting in place a system where those people will be flagged on polling day…by a mechanism yet to be determined,” Gunraj said.
The over 16,000 ‘new’ registrants were captured during the House-to-House (H2H) exercise that ran from July 20 to August 31, 2019. However, the Opposition – People’s Progressive Party (PPP) – has always contended that the H2H exercise was largely unsupervised and would produce flawed results.
Indeed, the Party subsequently found that many of the persons listed as new registrants are either dead or were previously registered. The concern that has been expressed is that this could be the gateway to fraudulent voting and election rigging.
It had previously been announced that over 6500 persons of the 16,863 ‘new’ registrants were not confirmed during the five-day field verification exercise which concluded on December 22. Figures released to the media the next day had shown that Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) had the highest number of unconfirmed persons, which tallied to 3657.
According to GECOM, there were 16,863 ‘new’ registrants but only 10,329 were confirmed.
Opposition-nominated Commissioner Robeson Benn told this publication last week that field officers who conducted the verification exercise of “new registrants” captured during the scrapped H2H process have found empty lots at the addresses on record for those persons.
He told Guyana Times that they were informed by the Party’s scrutineers who worked along with the GECOM staff during the exercise that there were instances where they went to the addresses to verify the names and were met with empty lots.
Some 370,000 registrations obtained during the scrapped $3 billion H2H exercise were sent overseas to be cross-matched with the National Register of Registrants Database (NRRD) in order to filter out the duplicates.
Only on Monday, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo said that the Party is willing to do a second round of verification to ensure a credible voters’ list come March 2020.