By Jomo Paul
[www.inewsguyana.com] – The May 11, 2015 General and Regional Elections has seen over three hundred less rejected ballots when compared to the amount in 2011; however the figure is still at an alarming high.
The 2015 elections results, as gazetted by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on June 05, 2015 indicated that there was a total of 4,043 rejected ballots in comparison to 4,418 in 2011 – 375 less uncounted votes.
Region 4, Demerara-Mahaica, which is Guyana’s most densely populated region, recorded the highest amount of rejected ballots at 1,305, while also having the highest amount of ballots cast at 184,806.
Region 8 – the Potaro-Siparuni recorded the least amount of votes at 3,737 with 91 rejected ballots.
As such, the total number of ballots cast, inclusive of the rejected ballots, would be 416,055 out of a total of 570,787registered voters. Guyana’s total population sits at 747,884 according to the preliminary results of a 2012 census.
In voting, a ballot is considered to be rejected [spoilt, spoiled, void, null, and informal] if a law declares or an election authority determines that it is invalid and thus not included in the vote count. This may occur accidentally or deliberately.
In Guyana, the Representation of the People’s Act stipulates that a ballot can be deemed invalid and rejected if it does not bear the official six digit stamp, which a vote has been placed for more than one political Party.
Ballots are also rejected if it has any other marks other than the ‘X’ in the box for the political Party of an individual’s choice. The rejected ballots managed to climb past the 4000 mark despite several voter education programmes from civil society including the Guyana National Youth Council (GNYC), Blue Caps and also GECOM.
Prior to the May 11 polls, both the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and A Partnership For National Unity (APNU) had sounded calls for GECOM to embark on an aggressive voter education campaign.
Alliance For Change (AFC) Member, Mark Ross had pointed out that more emphasis needs to be placed on ensuring that persons are aware that they can vote without their identification cards.
He made this statement against the backdrop that there are reports of persons buying identification cards for varying sums of monies across the country.
GNYC’s ‘Vote Like A Boss’ campaign was more instructive and managed to penetrate the population through the use of common social media platforms, multi-media and in person interactions across the country.