Stakeholders should reject GECOM’s sampling proposal

Dear Editor,
I read with interest that GECOM is planning to validate the registrants from the House-to-House (HtH) using a sample of 10 per cent (“GECOM to conduct sample survey of new registrants,” Guyana Chronicle, December 12, 2019). From a statistical standpoint, the validation of new registrants using a sample from HtH is a useless and dangerous exercise.
First of all, the data from HtH is highly questionable, as evidenced by the number of duplicates and registrants who did not ‘attract a hit,’ that is, names that were not on the National Register of Registrants Database. Secondly, since the transactions completed during the HtH exercise did not benefit from the involvement of scrutineers from all the major parties, the list is also highly suspect. Any sample extracted from the list of new registrants, therefore, will inevitably be as flawed as the population from which it is drawn. Thirdly, it would not be possible to use the sample to draw any valid inferences about the population since the population is unknown, regardless of the rigour and sophistication of the sampling procedure. In other words, the validity of the list of new registrants from the HtH exercise cannot be determined using such a sample and population (list of new registrants from HtH). A golden rule in statistics is that for deductions to be valid, the sample must be reflective of the actual population.
With your permission Editor, I would like to call on all the stakeholders, within and outside GECOM, who are desirous of ensuring free and fair elections to reject this proposal zealously. The proposed exercise is not only useless but extremely dangerous because it can result in the addition of illegitimate voters to the List of Electors under the guise that they were validated using a scientific procedure. We either scrutinise all the ‘new registrants’ from the HtH exercise or abandon the list altogether. When examining these registrants, every legal process that was applied to determine the authenticity of a voter during the Claim and Objections period must also be strictly observed. It would be better to ensure that all the safeguards are put in place to avoid rigged elections than allow the elections to be rigged and then attempt to challenge the results in the courts. We all witnessed how the High Court never heard the election petition filed by the PPP/C after more than four years. We either get everything right before and during the upcoming elections or prepare to suffer another round of legal battles to select our next Government.

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