Guyana Elections: House-to-House data to be published from October 24, 2019 – Commissioner

The encoding of the House-to-House data has been completed, and the process of its publication by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) for public scrutiny will begin on October 24, 2014.

Commissioner Charles Corbin

This was revealed to reporters by Commissioner Charles Corbin shortly after a statutory meeting of the Commission yesterday, at its Kingston Headquarters.

Kaieteur News understands that that data will be published in the respective areas in which those persons were registered, over the course of a few days.     

The verification of this data is important to the Opposition and its supporters. People’s Progressive Party (PPP) General Secretary, Bharrat Jagdeo, had opposed the exercise even before it started. He had urged his supporters to boycott the exercise. He had also sided with a legal challenge to the exercise.

Even when the exercise was suspended by the Commission after the new Chair, (ret’d) Justice Claudette Singh (S.C.) was installed, Jagdeo and his party opposed the intended merger of the data with the National Register of Registrants (NRR). He had reasoned that because the PPP didn’t send scrutineers, the integrity of the data is questionable.
What is sure is that the data will be used, said Corbin, but it is unclear how it will be used, according to both Corbin and fellow Commissioner, Sase Gunraj.

Commissioner Sase Gunraj

Furthermore, Corbin said that the lack of clarity on this matter also brings into question whether all of the data will be used. He added that there will have to be a definitive statement which brings that discussion to an end – likely from the Secretariat.

The first batch of cross-matched fingerprints has already returned, and a report finds those somewhere in the vicinity of 180,000 registrants. The second batch of fingerprints is now set to be sent off for cross-matching, but it is unclear when that will be completed.
International Assistance

The Commission yesterday met with a delegation from the European Union, who expressed the interest in fielding an observer mission during the March 2, 2020 elections.

The delegation has already met with other election stakeholders, including Government, according to Corbin, to explain the scope and method of the intended operations. He said that the Commission welcomed the involvement and will facilitate the observation process.
The Government-nominated Commissioner revealed that other international parties, including those from Canada and the United States, have indicated that they would make their services available to the Commission. The nature of that assistance, he explained, will depend on the specific needs of GECOM, as they may arise. Those parties are continuing to facilitate communication with GECOM, and will be around to offer assistance before, during and after the election season.

Commission split on measures to sanitise list
Persons are expected to visit the GECOM offices serving the area in which they live to ensure that their particulars are verified.
Some persons may fail to visit the GECOM office, rendering their registrations unverified, and the Commission is yet to decide on what to do with those names.

Three options are before the Commission, according to Corbin. The first would see unverified names being struck off of the list, meaning that they would not appear on the Revised List of Electors (RLE).

The second option would see GECOM producing two lists, separating unverified names from verified names. The third option would see GECOM producing one list, with the unverified names expressly highlighted.

On another issue, GECOM is also considering how to treat with the large number of persons it has failed to locate after repeated attempts to do so. According to Commissioners who spoke to reporters after last week’s statutory meeting, that number was somewhere upward of 20,000.

These persons came to the attention of GECOM because they failed to uplift their ID cards. Corbin had told Kaieteur News that GECOM made at least two separate attempts at different times in different years to find these persons, but was unsuccessful.

He had said that those efforts did not substantially reduce the number of persons on that list. This time around, the proposal is for the Commission to follow the specific procedures laid out in the National Registration Act pursuant to the cancellation of their registration.

Commissioner Vincent Alexander told reporters after the meeting: “We are using the ID card issue to determine the presence of our voters, their presence, their existence. The issue is not the ID card; the issue is that these persons, since 2008 and beyond, have not in any way presented themselves to be known, to be alive, to be existing, to be resident…”

Kaieteur News understands that the Commission did not vote on these matters last week, due to the absence of Commissioner Sase Gunraj. This time around, a vote was prevented by the absence of Commissioner Vincent Alexander.

The Commission hopes to meet again before the week is out, but it isn’t likely that all Commissioners will be present.

This week, the Commissioners only repeated their views on these issues and there appears to be no consensus. They have until November 11, 2019 to conclude that process.
Corbin said that the Chairman may have to weigh in with a definitive position before time runs out.

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