Guyana Elections: Jagdeo agrees with decision to reduce private polling places …

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo agrees that private polling places should be reduced. He just wants to ensure that the reductions are not unfair, or done in places where there aren’t sufficient public residences to replace them.

Bharrat Jagdeo

He made this comment during a press conference on February 27, at his Church Street office.

The private polling stations being used dropped from 166 in the 2015 elections to 92 for the 2020 elections. The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) had raised the concern that the reduction may have been applied disproportionately to PPP strongholds, making it so that the party’s supporters would have to travel longer distances to vote. There was also a concern that the polling places were congested.     

Subsequently, the former President made suggestions for an increase of at least 12 polling places in key areas purported to be PPP strongholds, namely Mon Repos and Foulis, East Coast Demerara, and Chesney, Corentyne.

Subsequently, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) decided to review the proposal made by Jagdeo, with a view to decongesting the areas mentioned.

While the Opposition Leader has stated categorically that the Carter Center, whose direction GECOM followed, did not directly recommend a reduction in private polling places, Jagdeo acknowledged that it was fair for GECOM to interpret the recommendation to have voters exercise their right in a “neutral environment… free from intimidation” as meaning that a reduction of private polling places would be the right choice.

An APNU/AFC delegation met with GECOM

He noted, however, that it is important to ensure the reduction is fair and proportionate.
He said that there should be enough public buildings to be used as replacements or in places where there aren’t, he suggested the use of places of worship.

On the other side of the political divide, a delegation from the governing Coalition visited GECOM yesterday to give their take on the issue.

Joseph Harmon told reporters after the meeting that the Coalition learnt of Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield visiting the purportedly congested areas with a PPP election agent, and an assistant.

He stated that the Coalition would not be prepared to accept the moving of polling stations to other places if it is done in that manner, that manner being without the Coalition’s scrutiny and input.

The Coalition election agent for East Coast Demerara (ECD), Basil Williams, will conduct a review of the purportedly congested areas to ensure that the PPP’s claims are checked out, according to Harmon, and relay the Coalition’s concerns to GECOM.

Amna Ally, who also attended the meeting, made it clear that the Coalition is not prepared to accept a return to private residences, but rather they would accept the use of tents.

From Kaieteur News

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