Guyana Politics: GECOM’s Final Count for H2H Registration is 370,740

…GECOM to discuss results from fact-finding mission in Jamaican on merger

TODAY, the high-level team that journeyed to Jamaica on a fact-finding mission to assess the available options of cross-matching the data gathered from the just concluded House-to-House Registration with the National Register of Registrants Database, will deliver a presentation to Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on its findings.

On Monday, the Elections Commission’s Public Relations Officer (PRO) Yolanda Warde told the Guyana Chronicle that 370,740 Guyanese registered during the House-to-House Registration exercise which came to a close on Saturday, August 31, 2019 in keeping with a unilateral decision taken by the Chairman of GECOM, Justice (Ret’d) Claudette Singh, to shorten the period initially allotted for the exercise.           

It is expected that the data from the national registration will be merged with the National Register of Registrants Database to allow for the extraction of the Preliminary List of Electors in the run-up to General and Regional Elections.

However, before the merger takes place, the Elections Commission would be required to cross-match the fingerprints from both groups of data to prevent any duplication of persons within the system. In its quest to ensure that a credible list is produced free of duplication, the Commission sent its Deputy Chief Elections Officer, Roxanne Myers; and its Information Technology Manager Aneal Giddings to Jamaica last week, where experts in fingerprint cross-matching exist.

The high-level team is expected to present its findings to the Commission at 13:00hrs today during its weekly statutory meeting. Warde told this newspaper that she is not privy to findings.

“I can’t say if it means go, no go, go slow, what it is, because that information has not been filtered down to me. The information is going directly to the Commission tomorrow (today),” Warde said.

She also disclosed that the Secretariat, in alignment with its mandate, prepared a number of work plans for submission to the Elections Commission. “They will look at it; scrutinize and discuss it and that decision will inform what our next step is,” the PRO posited.

At the close of House-to-House Registration last Saturday, 370,740 Guyanese registered. Unregistered Guyanese will be given the opportunity to be registered during the Claims and Objection period

What is certain is the conduct of Claims and Objections after the Preliminary List of Electors has been extracted. In an earlier interview, Warde had explained that Guyanese, who have never registered and were unable to do so during the period allotted for House-to-House Registration, will be given an opportunity to have their names added to the National Register of Registrants Database during the Claims and Objections Period.

“If you will be 18 years old by the 31st October, and you have never registered, you will have that opportunity to do so during the claims and objections exercise,” the GECOM PRO explained.

She explained, too, that in keeping with the August 14 ruling of the Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George-Wiltshire, the Elections Commission will not remove anyone from the National Register of Registrants Database with the exception of those who would have died (once the required documents are provided) and those who are disqualified. As such, names of Guyanese who have registered in the past will remain on the national register.

Meanwhile, as the Elections Commission determines its next step, with respect to the merge, Warde, on Monday, said it is continuing with its training exercise which commenced on August 17 – some three weeks ago. According to her, 3,982 polling day staff have been trained. Warde explained that the exercise commenced at South Georgetown where 1,185 potential polling staff were trained. During its second round of training, 1,201 potential election workers were trained along the East of Coast of Demerara. In parts of Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice) and on the East Bank of Demerara in Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) another 1,596 polling day staff were trained.

GECOM is expected to conduct training in Regions One, Two and 10 in the coming weeks. The ongoing exercise includes training of presiding officers, assistant presiding officers, ballot clerks, poll clerks and information clerks, among others.

Once trained, the potential polling day staff would be evaluated, and those successful would be signed onto GECOM as temporary staff. According to Warde, the training exercise is expected to be completed by the end of September or early October. Approximately 11,500 polling day staff are needed to facilitate General and Regional Elections.
Added to that, Warde told this newspaper that soon GECOM will launch its Civic and Voter Education Programme. This, she noted will be done ahead of the Claims and Objections Period. The Elections Commission has also initiated the process of procuring non-sensitive materials that are necessary to conduct elections.

“We cannot procure ballots and other sensitive materials until after Nomination’s Day but for the non-sensitive things, we have already started a process for that,” she posited.
GECOM Chairman, during her first meeting with President David Granger, indicated that the Commission would communicate its position to him soon. It was anticipated that that position would have been communicated to the President following the Thursday August 15 meeting of the Commission but that has not been done to date.

Though not speaking on behalf of Chairman, Warde said it is her belief that the Commission wants to finalise its plans before informing the President of its decision. President David Granger has long indicated that he will name a date for General and Regional Elections when the Elections Commission informs him that it is in a position to facilitate credible, free and fair elections. The President has also assured the Commission that his Government will provide all necessary resources to facilitate credible, free and fair elections. Already GECOM has been allocated close to $8B. As part of the National Budget for 2019, GECOM was allocated $5.546B – this sum, however, was supplemented with an additional $3.482B in May, 2019 after the Commission indicated to the President that it lacked the financial resources to facilitate early elections.

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