PPP/C Commissioners blast GECOM for reducing polling places

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  • say such was only done in PPP strongholds

In light of the reduction of polling places by the Guyana Elections Commission, the Opposition Commissioners on the Commission, Bibi Shadick, Sase Gunraj and Robeson Benn have rejected the unilateral changes made by the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield and his Secretariat.

See full statement by the three Commissioners below:

In late January 2020, we received from the CEO of GECOM, Mr Keith Lowenfield, in soft and hard copy, a list of Polling Stations countrywide together with extractions listing private residence and other buildings to be used as Polling Stations for the 2020 General and Regional Elections.

We shared this information with the PPP/C for scrutiny and comments. That list was acceptable so we asked for no changes to be made.

Lo and behold, two weeks ago, when GECOM put the information online for electors to check for their names and Polling Stations, and we received by e-mail on February 20, 2020, a list of Polling Stations which reflects the online information, there were no longer any polling places located in private residences anywhere on the East Coast Demerara. The same does not apply for other areas in Georgetown where the private residences are retained as per the January 2020 lists.

 

PPP GECOM Commissioners L-R: Sase Gunraj, Robeson Benn and Bibi Shadick.

In an area like Foulis where in January 2020, 9 (nine) private residences were listed together with one (1) public place, there are now no private residences! All those Polling Stations are now to be located in tents on the Line Top and a Playfield!

In Mon Repos, a huge housing community, had listed on the January list, 7 private and 7 public places for polling. There is now only 2 polling places, Mon Repos Nursery and Primary Schools, both in the same location.

Good Hope, another large housing area had on the January list, 3 private and 2 public places; it now has provision for 2 tents and 1 public place, that being a nursery school which is a relatively small flat building.

It is apposite to note that most of the affected communities are predominantly PPP/C areas, and that political party is not unreasonably protesting the unilateral changes which were made without any consultation with us.

This decision was made by the CEO in his own deliberate judgement, and for him to now claim that it was the Commission’s decision not to use any private residences, is totally false. No such decision was made by the Commission between the date we received the January 2020 list and the publication of the lists in February 2020.

This is reminiscent of the same CEO unilaterally issuing on Order under the hand of the Chairman, changing a decision of the Commission with respect to the duration of the Claims and Objections period from 35 to first 49 and then 42 days which was adopted by the Commission despite our objections.

We reject the unilateral changes made by the CEO and his Secretariat, to the Lists of Polling Places and demand that the January 2020 Listings be used countrywide. Nothing less will do.