Home Letters Where are the 200,000 bloated names Granger claimed were on GECOM’s register?
Editor, we as a country have moved away from the use of capital punishment as a corrective mechanism for criminal behaviour. However, some of our older Guyanese folks still believe that the approach is now more appropriate than ever to re-tool and arrest the madness Mr Granger and his shameless henchmen Commissioners at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
It is clear for all rational-minded Guyanese and the world to see, that the paucity of their continuous actions is far divorced from the truth, the expected reality of citizens’ rights, the constitutional obligations attributed to institutions such as GECOM and the limits of the President. The failure of this objectionable cabal at simple math and reasoning woefully continues, even after the embarrassing exposure in the High Court and at the Caribbean Court of Justice. Case in point, where are the two hundred thousand bloated names on GECOM’s Register of Registrants they pronounced on so vociferously? The Chair of GECOM must ensure that the continuance of such hazy incoherence does not influence the major decisions of the Commission.
Guyanese at home and across the globe are shouting shameless on Granger and his disgraceful team who have been doing everything possible to effect further delays. They produced all sorts of anecdotal evidence and shouted numerous spurious claims that the voters’ list is bloated with over two hundred thousand names. Obviously, this is embarrassingly disqualified by the results of the just-concluded Claims and the ongoing Objections exercise which confirm no major alarms. In fact, it establishes that the Preliminary List of Voters used in the process was very good (subject to the expected updates), and always was the legitimate route of pursuit. Notably, the two main political parties responded positively to GECOM and provided adequate numbers of scrutineers as a part of the verification process to inform the production of a credible Revised List of Electors.
During the recent Claims and Objections exercise, the GECOM staff along with the PNC and PPP scrutineers worked along smoothly to produce a record-breaking amount of transfers, a reasonable amount of new registrations while many citizens used the opportunity to apply for replacement of their lost ID cards. At the time of writing, it is unknown how many reports there were towards the removal of the names of deceased persons which is expected to be conducted by a special verification approach including data from the Department of Births and Deaths. Hence, we could look forward to an RLE which will produce an acceptable Final List of Electors.
Presently the political activists are busy looking at the onerous task of proving Objections. This is difficult because, from the work conducted in the fields, activists have reported the names of deceased persons who are still on the PLE. For example, Lena Stoby died more than one decade ago, but her name is still on the list. Almost the whole of Eccles and Agricola attended her funeral, yet, the difficulties are still enormous given the requirements to take a deceased person’s name off the list.
Over the past few weeks, the new mantra advocated by the PNC Commissioners at GECOM, sought to remove the names of over 25,000 registered citizens because they had not uplifted their identification cards. It was no doubt a move to disenfranchise thousands rather than to ensure that each registered citizen exercise their constitutional right to vote. Is this what GECOM really wants? Is GECOM expressing that the organisation does not have confidence in the counterchecks presented by thousands of trained polling day staff and Opposition agents on polling day? If so, the hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars would have gone to waste. From the general outlook and pattern of things, it appears that the emerging situation is just another famous Granger-Alexander delaying gambit.
When Justice Claudette Singh took the job as Chair of GECOM, she promised to uphold the rule of law and Guyana’s Constitution. Hence, it is imperative that she administers over an accountable, transparent, trusted and creditable GECOM. It is known that she inherited a decaying can of worms, adulterated with catalytic enzymes of decay implanted via the mandate of the illegal and unilateral appointment of James Patterson as Chairman of GECOM. Under his watch, the organisation was allowed to drift further into an untrustworthy, corrupt and suspicious channel.
There have been many public outcries and numerous calls on GECOM to improve its image which is indeed a very difficult task. This organisation must function independently and without political interference, there must be an immediate transformation of GECOM. There has been slow progress in the positive direction and intense overwhelming public scrutiny as a result, albeit almost negligible interaction with the public or media by the Chairman. It was, therefore, enlightening to witness the recent interview in which Chair Retired Justice Claudette Singh provided some measure of hope that she would not fall prey to the challengeable trap of disenfranchising registered persons from voting. The time is most opportune for the international community and donor agencies to expedite the process and place reputable persons to oversee the ‘day to day’ work at GECOM.
At this juncture, scheduling and timelines are critical for GECOM. Following the closing of the Claims and Objections on November 11, 2019, it is expected that the Supplemental List will be published. These will have to be prepared by the Registration Officers (ROs), and this should take approximately one week, all things being equal. Following that is the GECOM Chief Election Officer’s approval of the produced Revised List of Electors.
After November 11, 2019, the ROs’ downhill tasks include adding and deleting to the PLE so as to complete the final transfer positions. Additionally, preparing the list of names of all the new registrants along with their fingerprints which will have to be sent overseas for cross-matching. After the verification of the new registrants, it is then that those names will be placed on the Revised List of Electors. The process will continue with the RLE sent out for further perusing for another twenty-one days before the CEO produces the Final List of Electors.
This nation must be informed about the timelines because the list will have to be published long before Nominations Day. This is necessary because political parties will have to use the Official List of Electors to get the signatures of backers for their Candidates before Nominations Day. By now, we know that the 200,000 bloated voters on the current PLE would not be found in this process because they simply don’t exist. Also, that it is impossible to achieve a 100 per cent voter turnout generally and this is evidenced in many democracies around the world where voter turnout has been less than 50 per cent of the voters’ list.
As we await the next conflicting and trumped-up position from the PNC/APNU Commissioners at GECOM, I wish to take this opportunity to remind the CEO of GECOM Secretariat that registrants who did the relevant transactions for the replacement of their ID cards, as well as the new registrants, are awaiting their ID cards.