One of the problems confronting the national registration exercise was the absence of source documents. Citizens were clearly told that their passports or ID cards were not sufficient for them to be registered. They needed to produce their original birth certificates. Long ago, this would not have been a problem. Most citizens would have been able to delve into some old drawer and retrieve their birth certificate.
Not anymore. Persons are losing these documents like how some trees shed leaves in autumn. And so a large number of persons were not able to complete their registrations.
The PNCR knows this. They were the ones who just recently indicated that there were large numbers of persons who were not registered. What therefore accounts for this about-face by the PNCR? Why are they opposed to the reopening of the claims and objections period.
Guyana would not have been in this situation that it is in had it not been for the position that the PNCR adopted in relation to the voters’ list. The law provides that the voters list is supposed to be complied from the national registrar of registrants. Thus once you are eighteen years of age by the prescribed date, once you are a Guyanese and have been registered then you are eligible to vote.
The PNCR had insisted in the run- up to the 2006 elections that there be house- to- house registration. This, despite them knowing, and it being explained to them, that there was very little chance for phantom voters.
Instead of using the time to concentrate on mobilizing their supporters and winning others over to their side, the PNCR engaged in histrionics outside of the elections commission calling for house to house verification of the list.
The PNCR did not change its position until the ABC countries issued a statement on the elections, more or less indicating that no voters list is ever perfect and there were sufficient checks and balances to avoid fraud.
The PNCR wasted a great deal of time and therefore took a hammering in those elections.
But after the elections it was up to its usual games. It called for a new house to house registration something that was totally unnecessary since the system of continuous registration is supposed to take care of new registrants.
The PNCR however must have been more interested in removing from the voters list those persons who were legally registered in Guyana but who may have since migrated overseas. As such, house to house registration meant that a new list of only persons living in Guyana at the time and subsequent to the registration.
This exercise was done and cost billions of dollars. There was also an insistence of new voter identification cards and on checking for duplicate registrations. This too was done to the tune of millions of dollars just to satisfy the main opposition party.
Just a few months ago, the main opposition party indicated that many persons were not registered because of the lack of source documents. Yet now that the ruling party had made the same call, all the opposition parties are taking a position against the reopening of the claims and objections. But why would they wish to do this?
It is disgraceful that the opposition parties, including the AFC, can adopt such a position more so considering what this country has had to endure when it comes to elections.
Guyana needs to enfranchise everyone and everyone can only be enfranchised if they have their source documents to facilitate registration.
It is shocking that some parties will claim that the PPP wants to impose its will on GECOM.
The voting in GECOM on this issue illustrates the divisions within that body so how is the PPP trying to impose its will when it was reported that there was a division down the middle?
The next explanation is that the PPP wants to delay elections so as to extend its term. Is the opposition serous about this sort of nonsense that is being pedaled? The ruling party is ahead in the opinion polls and it is not expected to lose the elections.
What the ruling party needs is for there to be as little problems in the elections as possible and the reduction is such problems can be achieved if all eligible voters are registered.
Regardless of what decision the Guyana Elections Commission takes on this matter, the people of Guyana should remember that it was the opposition parties that were opposed to the reopening of the claims and objections period.
So that come election day this year when someone complains that they were not on the voters list, those persons should be reminded of the criticism of the opposition to an extension to the claims and objections list.