PPP/C expresses concern over GECOM using tents as polling stations

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– cites security concerns; says tents unconducive for Election Day work

On the heels of the alarm caused by the drastic reduction in polling places, more concern is being expressed about the logistics of the Guyana Elections Commission using tents as temporary polling places for General and Regional Elections.

This was communicated by People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Chief Scrutineer Zulfikar Mustapha, in an interview with Inews. Chief among Mustapha’s concerns was how unsecure tents are for protecting sensitive information such as ballots.

“There are areas of concern where some of these polling places are earmarked for. I am not satisfied with GECOM using tents. Tents are very unsecure. You can put those on open lots and they are not secured properly. There are no fences; people can compromise the process there. Tents will not provide enough security for these polling places.

PPP’s Executive Secretary, Zulfikar Mustapha

“There are a number of tents that GECOM has proposed to be polling stations. GECOM will bring the tents there. And it’s not just security. When the sun hot and there’s tarpaulin in an open area, imagine how uncomfortable those polling agents will be, including our agents. To sit under a tent from 05:00h until almost 09:00h. Tents are not secure.”

According to Mustapha, GECOM’s decision to slash the use of private residences as polling stations is already one that has potential to cause complications. He noted that GECOM communicated its intention to use tents on the list of polling stations it supplied.

“For example, places like Foulis, they have earmarked some of those areas for tents. In some compounds, like the Eccles Health Centre I had my people check today, they said the Health Centre can’t accommodate six polling stations. As a result of that, they will have to do tents in the compound.

Chief Election Officer Keith Lowenfield

“Then there’s another area in Perseverance. They told me they went today and the place is like a pasture. So, these things are not secure. I am very dissatisfied. Right now, we want GECOM to put back those stations they reduced,” he said.

Concern has also been expressed that GECOM’s decision to reduce private polling places will disproportionately affect perceived PPP/C strongholds while perceived coalition support bases will remain unaffected.

In Mon Repos, there are approximately 10,000 voters registered, yet only two Places of Poll – Mon Repos Nursery School and Mon Repos Primary School – have now been designated to facilitate them.

Mon Repos comprises several sections – Mon Repos North, Mon Repos Housing Scheme, Mon Repos Market Square, Mon Repos Squatting Area, Mon Repos Richardsville, Marthasville Block CC and Block 8 – which are widely dispersed.\

GECOM Chair (ret’d) Justice Claudette Singh

From the data provided, approximately 7000 voters will now be funnelled into Mon Repos Primary School to cast their ballots. This is a recipe for chaos since, based on our history of past elections, most of these voters will be arriving at the Place of Poll in the early hours of the morning or in the evening. In the last elections, Mon Repos had 19 polling places, which allowed a very orderly flow of voters and the voting was incident-free.

Former Attorney General Anil Nandlall, in a social media post on Monday evening, had also been critical of GECOM’s decision. This decision, he said, must be reviewed owing to the potential for confusion on Election Day.