The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has made significant gains in the November 12 Local Government Elections (LGE). This has come, however, with a meager 38 per cent of voter turnout.
Of the 573,000 persons on the official LGE voters list, only 208, 534 of them turned up to vote at the polls held on Monday.
Speaking at the press conference today (Friday), Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) James Patterson, described the voter turnout as disturbing, but insisted the electoral body should not be held responsible for this.
He noted that this is the result of voter apathy, but he was still hopeful that things would improve. “GECOM cannot be blamed for the apathy. We have done our best,” he added.
Commenting on the turnout, Chief Election Officer Keith Lowenfield said the Ministry of Communities shares responsibility for voter education.
“To come out a week before and say this is what is required, in our view, at GECOM doesn’t help. It has to be a year-round arrangement that speaks to what is required in some local government corner or some local government education arrangement,” he said.
Besides the Ministry, Lowenfield said the political parties and candidates had a role to play in voter education.
Deputy Chief Elections Officer, Roxanne Myers also shared similar views saying that GECOM’s voter education programme focuses on the technical and procedural aspect of how a voter should vote.
She explained that when it comes to inspiration of the electorate, “that is not within our remit” as this should be the work of those who are aspiring to hold political office and for the subject Ministry.