GECOM data shows most discrepancies found in Georgetown, ECD & Berbice

Chairperson of GECOM Justice Claudette Singh

Data released by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) shows that of the over 20,000 persons the Commission will have to verify in field exercises, as many as 2321 of those persons are from the East Coast of Demerara (ECD).

This was revealed during a press conference on Wednesday at GECOM’s headquarters on Main Street, Georgetown.

According to Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield, GECOM will first focus on areas with concentrated numbers of discrepancies.

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.

“So basically, we get to the locations with the scrutineers, they do their enquiring and we head back out. For the coast, my plan is if one team has to do 25 visitations per day, then I’ve arithmetically worked out the amount of teams I would need to ensure the amount of visitation for the large areas is done”.

“So I’ll be asking of the Chief Scrutineers to provide those amounts of scrutineers for us. We will have to ask those who worked with us previously for house-to-house (to come on board) … because, no doubt, we don’t have the amount of staff. Our HR division is working to ensure that they indicate an interest in working so tomorrow (today) we can all assemble and cover all the ground in all the areas”.

Lowenfield admitted that since GECOM does not have enough staff on its own to carry out the exercise, it needed to bring in persons who worked as enumerators previously on the recent house-to-house (H2H) exercise. While he could not say how many field workers GECOM will be sending out into communities, he gave some insight into the methodology that will be used.

“I don’t have the numbers, but I can say arithmetically that if we have 16,000 (names to verify) and the intent is to have one team per day make 20 visits, I can provide the sum. But I have asked my officers to provide that information, understanding the geography in these areas”.

He expressed hope that by tomorrow, their permanent and temporary staff could be assembled to conduct the exercise. For now, however, Lowenfield explained that he would be meeting with the chief scrutineers of the political parties to coordinate the exercise.

At Tuesday’s statutory meeting, there was a split vote on whether to proceed with the exercise or not. GECOM Chair Retired Justice Claudette Singh used her casting vote to break the deadlock. At Wednesday’s press conference, she explained her decision.

“I ruled in the interest of transparency and because I would like a credible list. I would like for all to have a levelled playing field, so in the end, no one can complain that GECOM did something which was just foisted on them without having the new registrants fully verified.
So, that is my decision in the interest of transparency,” Justice Singh explained.

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. Earlier this week, 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.

The PPP has always contended that the 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.