GECOM threatened with legal action over house-to-house registration

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Opposition-nominated Commissioner, Robeson Benn has formally threatened to take legal action against the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) over its decision to forge ahead with house-to-house registration.

Benn, through his attorney Anil Nandlall, dispatched a letter to GECOM’s Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield on April 2, 2019, detailing why proceeding with house-to-house registration is unconstitutional and can disenfranchise thousands of Guyanese.

According to the Opposition Commissioner, the move to house-to-house registration is said to be predicated upon the ground that the Voters’ List is “bloated’ with dead persons and persons who have migrated. “The reason proffered for this proposed exercise is to sanitise the list of these two categories of occupants,” the letter outlined.

Benn’s attorney said it is the decision to remove persons from the List, who maybe out of Guyana that “agitates my apprehension”.

The letter said such an exercise is fraught with hazards, including the violation of the Constitution and the constitutional rights of qualified electors to vote.

“In short, a Guyanese, residing either permanently or temporarily in Timbuktu, once he or she is eighteen years and over is qualified to be registered and, if registered, is qualified to vote,” it stated.

“At this juncture, it is apposite that I emphasize that by acquiring citizenship of another country, a Guyanese citizen, does not necessarily lose his/her Guyanese citizenship. He/she remains a citizen of Guyana and, therefore, qualifies to be registered and, if registered, qualifies to vote,” the letter added.

In the circumstances, the letter asked GECOM to “refrain from embarking on or, proceeding with, this unlawful and unconstitutional exercise, which will disenfranchise thousands of persons now qualified to vote”.

“If I do not hear from you within seven (7) days of the date hereof, I will assume that you have rejected my demand and I will have no alternative but to advise my client to institute legal proceedings against you, to restrain you from embarking on, or proceeding with, the aforesaid house-to-house registration,” the letter concluded.

State Minister Joseph Harmon recently announced that Guyanese living overseas, who usually return home to vote during National and Regional Elections may not get the opportunity to do so at the upcoming polls if they are not here to register during the house-to-house registration.

See full letter dispatched to GECOM here: KEITH LOWENFIELD-min

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