GECOM denies registration irregularity
- PPP says that neighbours, others used to register individuals
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has denied accusations by the ruling party, that its officials are disobeying regulations by using neighbours and other persons to verify a person’s identity during this claims and objections period.
Yesterday, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) expressed concerns with the field verification process for new registrants and people seeking transfers during the claims and objections period which commenced on May 9.
“The party was informed by its scrutineers that GECOM officials are verifying a person’s identity and address without seeing the person(s). The GECOM staff is using information gathered from neighbours and members of the person’s “alleged” household to verify,” a PPP release said yesterday.
“This practice is in contradiction with the instructions provided in the manual, produced by GECOM, for field verification and consequently can seriously impact on the quality assurances surrounding such transactions.”
The PPP urged GECOM to immediately intervene in the field verification process, since the party has instructed its scrutineers not to sign on to verification forms in instances where the would-be registrant was not seen. “The party’s dissatisfaction continued since this issue was raised with the Chairman and CEO of the Commission.
“The matter was also discussed at the level of the Commission, yet the unacceptable practice continues in some registration areas.”
However, GECOM’s Public Relations Officer, Vishnu Persaud, refuted that the practice was widespread. As a matter of fact, there was one instance and the matter was immediately addressed.
GECOM, he said, ”was made aware of a singular occurrence where the verification of the residency of a person who applied for registration was considered done in the person’s absence, and based on the word of another person at the given address.”
This matter was discussed extensively at the 323rd Statutory Meeting of GECOM which was held on May 10, and where it was noted that the act was in contravention of the procedure for residency verification.
“Instantaneous instructions, clearly reiterating the procedure to be followed, were dispatched to all of GECOM’s permanent Registration Officers across Guyana for dissemination among all field staff and with emphasis placed on the need for the occurrence never to be repeated.”
The procedural instructions given are as follows:-
GECOM officials can under no circumstances verify identity by proxy.
“In other words, the person applying for registration must be seen as physically being at the residence address documented on the relevant application form. The statement of a wife (legal or reputed), a relative, a friend or an acquaintance must not be accepted as proof of residence.”
There must be evidence that the person being registered is present.
“Scrutineers should be present when the verification exercise is being conducted. Accordingly, GECOM is not aware of the recurrence of any act of verification in the absence of an applicant since the instructions were given.”
The Commission also said that it welcomes the vigilance of the scrutineers in carrying out their responsibilities as they are crucial to the integrity of the registration process.
“GECOM invites all of the concerned stakeholders, including the political parties, to bring to its attention the specific details (e.g. name and address of the applicant) pertaining to any verification done in the absence of the applicant for registration, or any other concern associated with the work of the Commission, in order that it/they could be investigated and treated accordingly and in a timely manner.”
This registration period is key to the preparation of a final voters’ list in time for Local and General Elections set for later this year.
GECOM is tasked with ensuring that the elections are run smoothly, including the registration of voters and preparations of the list.