Calls from the governing A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Administration for there to be a new round of house-to-house registration done by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) for the 2020 general elections, has once again been rejected by the Opposition as a tactic to delay elections come 2020.
General Secretary (GS) of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Dr Bharrat Jagdeo said recently that “We believe that doing house-to-house registration at this late stage within the constitutional deadline for holding general elections could be used as a pretext for delaying the elections.”
He also pointed out that after the 2015 General and Regional Elections, the PPP had requested for GECOM to undertake house-to-house registration, but that request was completely ignored.
He then recalled that in 1990 a house-to-house registration was conducted and it was used to delay the elections to 1992. Jagdeo also recalled that the list very flawed.
Moreover, the Party GS expressed fear that enumerators at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) would deliberately not go into PPP strongholds specifically in hinterland and riverain areas and deny them the right to vote.
Jagdeo’s comment comes in light of the GECOM presenting a request to the Finance Ministry for funding of a national house-to-house registration exercise for a new voters’ list as part of its preparation for the 2020 general elections.
Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield told a recent press conference that GECOM gave approval for the Secretariat budgeting to provide for the conduct of this exercise. While the CEO was reluctant to provide a cost, it was later revealed that it will cost $3 billion.
Jagdeo had said that he was surprised that “the Chief Election Officer has made a request for funding for an initiative that has not been decided at the level of the commission.”
Although GECOM has made a commitment to having the house-to-house registration completed in six months, Jagdeo said, he is doubtful that it could be completed in such a short time. “It is opening the door for a process that is potentially fraudulent,” he stated.
Jagdeo, a former president, also raised concerns over the current framework within which GECOM operates. He said he is fearful about the inputting of data and that the final list of voters being flawed, especially given the concerns they already have with GECOM.