Guyana: House to House Registration required to prevent corrupted elections – GECOM Commissioner

Absence of House to House Registration leaves room for corrupted elections – GECOM Commissioner

Bharrat Jagdeo

Vincent Alexander

But one of GECOM’s Commissioners, Vincent Alexander, says the sanitization of the list goes beyond the dead. He told this newspaper that the list is bloated with persons who are no longer living here. And if this is not dealt with, he said it leaves scope for corrupted elections.

Before going into further explanation on this statement, Alexander felt it necessary to provide some history on the holding of house-to-house registration. The GECOM Commissioner noted that any voters’ list or any register of registrants needs to be renewed periodically. That is standard practice, he said. Alexander asserted that in the case of GECOM, the body took the decision years ago that it would do a renewal of the voters’ list every seven years.

“For the last few years, we wanted to do it but we did not get the funding, hence it was not done. In this year’s budget, we have gotten the resources so basically what GECOM wants to do is what should be done as a matter of course… So forget all the questions. This is a basic procedure that should be undertaken periodically.  And the period we defined is seven years and we have gone past seven…”

In addition to that routine exercise, Alexander shared that concerns were raised about the population having750, 000 people while the voters’ list is 500,000 plus. He said this clearly means that the list has an excess of the real resident voting population.

“It therefore means that we may have dead people and I would argue the case that the majority of the excess is not dead people. The dead people are a minor number of the excess because the Registrar of Births and Deaths, they do send us the registered deaths and we remove them throughout the course of the year. But if someone’s death is not registered, then they can’t send us that…The number of excess people on the list seems to be overseas Guyanese.”

On that premise, Alexander opined that the PPP’s contention that it is just a matter of removing the dead is not the end of the problem.

“Having excess people on the list leaves scope for corrupted elections. If you get the identification card of that person, you can get someone else to vote for them so there is a window for corrupted elections if you leave those names on the list.”

BUT LIST WAS VALID FOR LGE
Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo had also contended that there is no need for the house-to-house registration since the government and the PPP had agreed on the said list being used for Local Government Elections. Jagdeo said that the list is valid until April 30.

But Alexander said that this argument does not hold any weight. He said there was no money voted for GECOM to sanitize the list. He said, therefore, that GECOM did not have a choice but to go forward with the list.

“We have agreed to do this thing every seven years so both sides can’t in the face of an agreement, now call for something else…If things went as they should have gone, elections in 2020, we would go into that elections with a new list because we were allocated money in this budget to clean up the list this year…Now we want to cancel the idea of sanitizing the list and just go into the elections. But that is leaving scope for corrupted elections.”

Asked to say if there is any way GECOM would not vet the list, Alexander said, “I cannot say that. GECOM makes decisions based on how the commissioners vote and we have not met as yet. We are scheduled to meet on Tuesday.” The GECOM Commissioner also reminded that the money GECOM has is for registration purposes and not elections. He said that the latter would cost more.

AND THE 90 DAY DEADLINE?
Jagdeo has also argued that if house-to-house registration is conducted, it would prevent elections from being held by the Constitutional deadline of March 19, which kicked in when the No-Confidence Motion was carried on December 21, 2018.

But Alexander finds this view to be flawed. He noted that the Constitution clearly states that the deadline can be extended by the National Assembly with a two-thirds majority.

Article 106 (7) of the Constitution states, “Notwithstanding its defeat, the Government shall remain in office and shall hold an election within three months, or such longer period as the National Assembly shall by resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the votes of all the elected members of the National Assembly determine, and shall resign after the President takes the oath of office following the election.”

Alexander said therefore that there is no looming constitutional crisis that would occur if GECOM needs time to do house-to-house registration which would go past the 90 days that is being spoken of by Jagdeo.
“The Constitution says that a date can be set by the House using a two-thirds majority. That is why both sides have appointed a representative to speak with GECOM because it is our advice that would inform the deadline.”

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Comments

  • Denise  On January 22, 2019 at 8:35 am

    I think it’s very important for the country that this house to house registration be done. What’s Jagdeo’s hurry to call elections? If he thinks the PPP will win the next election, what difference would 6 months make???? This should have been done before the last election when the PPP was in power. Why wasn’t it???

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