Persons who refuse to participate in the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) House-to-House Registration exercise will be charged and fined.
The National Registration Act – Sections 6.5, 6.6 and 6.7 – stipulates that every eligible person who refuses to make an application for registration shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine of $16,250 or imprisonment for six months.
This was according to an advertisement placed in the daily newspapers by the elections body.
GECOM had planned on starting House-to-House Registration by June 1, 2019; however, it is yet to commence.
Public Relations Officer Yolanda Warde could not give a reason for the setback, but assured that the exercise would still be conducted, as the expired voters’ list needed to be updated.
However, the advert stated that eligible persons were asked to have on standby, their birth certificate, valid passport, naturalisation certificate, and/or adoption certificate.
Married women on the other hand would be asked to present their marriage certificate, and persons with a name charge which is not stated on the birth certificate must present a deed poll along with the original birth certificate.
In addition, persons who were previously registered would be required to register again. Furthermore, during the House-to-House Registration period, no one will be allowed to register at GECOM’s offices.
It was reported that eligible persons are Guyanese citizens by birth, descent, naturalisation of registration 14 years and older by October 31, 2019, or a citizen of a Commonwealth country living in Guyana for a period of no less than one year preceding the qualifying date.
GECOM will establish teams of enumerators who will visit houses and other places of residence, including homes for the youth and elderly to register persons in Guyana.
“Eligible persons will be registered on the spot using the required registration form and relevant source documents,” GECOM stated. In giving clear guidelines, GECOM stated that enumerators will visit the applicant’s home, accompanied by party scrutineers.
The enumerator introduces the team and explains the purpose of the visit. The applicants in that household are interviewed. The enumerator will be required to advise the applicant of the need for fingerprints, photograph and signature, before proceeding to fill out the application form.
The applicant and scrutineers must sign the completed form and a triplicate copy of the form must be left with the applicant.
Every person who knowingly makes a false statement for the purpose of being registered, or of remaining registered, shall be liable on a summary conviction to a fine of $5000 and to imprisonment for six months.
GECOM is forging ahead with House-to-House Registration as the country awaits a ruling from the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on the December 2018 no-confidence motion against the Government and the appointment of the GECOM Chair. The rulings on these matters are tentatively set for June 18, 2019.
Furthermore, the registration exercise is being held amid contention between the two factions of political party-nominated Commissioners at GECOM. The Opposition-nominated Commissioners are holding out that there was no need for House-to-House Registration when the old voters’ list could be vetted and updated through a ‘claims and objections’ period.
GECOM’s Legal Officer, Excellence Dazzle has also submitted a legal opinion to the Commission, stating that there was no need for the House-to-House Registration – which can last as long as nine months. But the opinion was rejected by the Government-aligned Commissioners.