Almost 20,000 new eligible voters recorded by GECOM

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The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Continuous Registration Exercise, which concludes at the end of May, has so far resulted in almost 20,000 new, eligible voters being registered.

According to data provided by GECOM Public Relations Officer Yolanda Ward, a total of 19,389 new eligible voters were registered as of April 26. Meanwhile, 15,234 new registrants between the ages of 14 and 17 were recorded by GECOM.

There were also 2516 transfers, 4156 changes, 4493 replacements and 1075 photo retakes were processed. All of this amounts to 46,863 in total transactions, after seven weeks of the GECOM workers interfacing with persons across the country.

GECOM had its statutory meeting on Tuesday. Speaking with this publication on Wednesday, GECOM Commissioner Bibi Shadick said that most of their discussions on continuous registration dealt with ensuring the smooth progression of the exercise.

“They’re going to try to correct some of the things… the CEO (Chief Elections Officer Vishnu Persaud) promised to liaise… so we dealt mostly with that. And the movement of scrutineers, mobile (registers), that kind of stuff,” she said.

The continuous registration process is necessary in updating the List of Electors and paving the way for the hosting of Local Government Elections (LGE). GECOM has said that this registration exercise is of crucial importance to first-time applicants. These are regarded as those persons who were 14 to 18 years old when they were registered during the 2019 House to House exercise.

Any person, who will be 14 years or older by October 31, 2022, and is a Guyanese citizen by birth, descent, or naturalization or is a citizen from a Commonwealth country living in Guyana for one year or more can apply for registration, provided that he or she was never registered before.

They are required to visit the GECOM registration office responsible for their area of residence with the relevant source documents: original birth certificate, valid passport, adoption certificate, or naturalization certificate in the case of new registration.

For change of name, the original marriage certificate or deed poll with birth certificate is required. Existing registrants, who are desirous of updating their records, such as a request to correct or change their names, date of birth, occupation or update their addresses are advised that those transactions would also be facilitated during this exercise.

It is also understood that GECOM is looking to have an updated voters’ list in place by October, in order for the LGE to be held. The last time GECOM conducted continuous registration was in 2019, in preparation for the March 2020 General and Regional Elections.
More than $750 million has been set aside in Budget 2022 for the preparations to be undertaken by GECOM for the hosting of LGE this year. This money is part of an overall $4.1 billion allocation to GECOM in Budget 2022, and was examined and approved by the National Assembly during its consideration of the 2022 Budget Estimates.

Included in the $783 million for LGE is a more-than-$300 million increase in “other goods and services purchased”, which jumped from $250.8 million in 2021 to $575.9 million in the 2022 Budget. LGE are constitutionally due every two years in Guyana and were last held in 2018. However, given the fiasco that played out following the 2020 General and Regional Elections, the Local Government polls were deferred to 2021.

At the last LGE in November 2018, the then People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Opposition had secured 52 of the 80 Local Authority Areas (LAAs). This followed the holding of the LGE in 2016, during which the PPP/C also claimed the majority of the LAAs.

The registration exercise will conclude on May 29, 2022.