Mar 26, 2015 News
…political parties help in ID card distribution
Western diplomats have expressed satisfaction with the preparations of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) for the May 11General Elections.
“We are encouragingly satisfied with the preparations being made by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) for the free, fair, efficient and transparent conduct of Elections on May 11, 2015,” a statement from the Commission quoted the diplomats of the United States of America, Great Britain and Canada, as saying.
On Friday, Chargé d’Affaires of the American Embassy, Bryan Hunt; British High Commissioner, Greg Quinn, and the Canadian High Commissioner, Dr. Nicole Giles met with GECOM’s Chairman, Dr. Steve Surujbally and Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield.
“The meeting provided GECOM with the opportunity to thoroughly update the diplomats about the heightened state of preparedness throughout the GECOM Secretariat, as the May 11 General and Regional Elections draw near.”
GECOM said that it clearly indicated that the preparatory electoral processes have met all statutory requirements and timelines, and in some instances have been ahead of schedule – as is the case with the early posting of the Revised List of Electors.
In response to queries regarding adequate numbers of trained Election Day staff to be utilized by the Commission, Lowenfield “emphasized that in an effort to avoid last minute recruitment, training and selection of Election Day workers, GECOM initiated a rigorous training, re-training, further training and refresher training exercises since September 2014 and now has a reserve pool of trained Election Day staff in excess of the required numbers, in every Electoral District.”
The CEO also pointed out that Polling Day staff will be contracted from the beginning of April, and will again undergo a number of refresher training courses, on a continuous basis- three days per week – three hours each day), in the run-up to Election Day.
The training will include the holding of mock polls.
According to Dr. Surujbally, the selection of Polling Day staff including Returning Officers and Deputy Returning Officers was conducted in a fair and transparent manner and following the criteria associated with due process and international best practice.
The Secretariat, he said, submitted lists of potential Returning Officers and Deputy Returning Officers to the Commission for its consideration and comments.
“Senior appointments were subsequently made with agreement of the GECOM Commissioners.”
Dr. Surujbally also stressed that the eventual contracting of Polling Day staff will be a merit-based exercise that will take into consideration the applicants’ profiles, maturity, experience, relevant skills and scores on evaluations conducted during their two-day training.
“The ABC diplomats were also briefed on the new methodology to be adopted by GECOM as it relates to the investigation for applications for Proxy Voting. Previously, Returning Officers investigated the applications for proxy voting independently. However, as an improved measure of transparency, political party agents will now be actively involved in the process, not lastly accompanying Returning Officer during their home visits, to investigate applications for Proxy Voting.”
GECOM made it clear that it is currently exploring the use of social media, as part of its integrated communication strategy, to inform stakeholders about the location of polling stations and other pertinent issues.
GECOM also revealed that political parties have been enrolled in the distribution of National ID Cards.
Dr. Surujbally said that “political parties were given a list of names of persons who are yet to uplift their National ID cards. He added that political parties can encourage their supporters to collect their ID cards. The uncollected ID cards would be centralized at the GECOM Secretariat three days before the elections.”
In response to a question about the timely release of election results, the GECOM Chairman categorically stated the Commission would not compromise accuracy for expediency/speediness in delivery of election results, but would be aiming towards a timely and accurate announcement of the election results. GECOM further indicated that it will be divulging partial results as the tabulation process is underway.
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