Four days into the field verification exercise for the over 16,000 persons that have to be verified by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), it seems that a good proportion of those visited were missing in action (MIA).
This was revealed by the chief scrutineer of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Zulficar Mustapha, who in an interview with Inews explained that in the three days since the exercise started, the teams – consisting of GECOM staff and political parties’ scrutinisers – have been able to make more than half of their scheduled visits.
“We were able to verify just over half of the names we went and visit, say about 8400. And we were able to verify just about 55 per cent of those persons. Now there are a number of persons who we did not find. They are out of the addresses. So hopefully if we finish earlier, we can do a second pass to see if we find them,” Mustapha explained.
Further, he related that when GECOM set out to do the field verification, it was for approximately 16,369 names. This was down from the 20,000 names initially announced as subject to verification. In fact, he explained that the numbers are constantly being updated.
“That was the number of names that they started the verification with when they commenced it two days ago. So they reduced the number. And though they reduced those duplications, our scrutineers are finding additional duplications,” Mustapha said.
“So that number will also have to be updated. When this exercise is finished, that base figure they started with will have to be [updated] because they are still finding duplications that appear on both the PLE and the House-to-House,” he said, adding that approximately 100 new duplications have been found.
He noted that when it comes to the course of action to be taken with persons who cannot be verified, a solution to propose to GECOM must come from deliberations within the party.
“We have to find and verify these people. If they were registered at the address, they are living there but working somewhere, we have to verify the existence of these persons, before [further action].”
The PPP has always contended that the House-to-House (H2H) exercise, which ran from July 20 to August 31, was largely unsupervised and would produce flawed results. Indeed, the party subsequently found that many of the persons listed as new registrants are either dead or were previously registered.
Some 370,000 registrations obtained during the scrapped H2H exercise were sent overseas to be cross-matched with the National Register of Registrants Database (NRRD) in order to filter out the duplicates.
However, it was recently reported that international digital security company, Gemalto, indicated that some 37,300 were new registrants who are eligible for voting, that is, they are above the age of 18. But an internal check conducted by GECOM showed that approximately 17,000 of those “new registrants” were already on the voters’ list and some even voted in the past.
The remaining 20,000 “new names” were up for further verification. Previously, it was reported that the Government-nominated Commissioners were pushing to have a sample survey done from a sample size of 10 per cent from the 20,000 to verify these new names before they go on the voters’ list – a process which the PPP Opposition had objected to.
At last Tuesday’s statutory meeting there was a split vote on whether to proceed with a field verification exercise or not. GECOM Chair, retired Justice Claudette Singh, then sided with the Opposition and used her casting vote to break the deadlock.
At a press conference the next day, it was revealed that of the thousands of persons the Commission will have to verify in field exercises starting that same day, as many as 2321 of those persons were from the East Coast of Demerara (ECD).
Besides the East Coast, there were 2106 registrants who were red-flagged in South Georgetown and 1528 in North Georgetown. There were also 1428 on the East Bank-Soesdyke areas; 1241 registrants from Parika and a combined 1751 persons from Whim, Corriverton and New Amsterdam.