…No decision made on method to sanitize voters’ list
An information technology (IT) expert from the United States has been recruited to help the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to prepare for the upcoming Local Government Elections which is expected before the end of the year.
On Friday, Chairman of GECOM, Justice James Patterson (ret’d) explained that the expert has been sourced with the help of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
According to the Chairman, the expert will among other things advise the Commission on ways to upgrade its IT system and sanitize the current voters’ list.
“Sanitizing the list is a different concern; it is for the agreement of the Commissioners. That doesn’t mean that as it stands the list is insanitary. It just means that we have not yet developed what is the best means of sanitizing it. With the aid of our overseas partners, who have been extremely helpful, we got an IT consultant coming onboard soon and we are looking forward to that,” Patterson stated.
The process to be used for the sanitization of the list has been actively debated in public. A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) has called for house-to-house verification, a move the opposition, People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has rejected.
The PPP has argued that house-to-house verification would be too costly and delay the holding of LGE this year.
One of the tasks undertaken by GECOM and stakeholders is to cleanse the list of deceased persons, based upon information generated by the General Registrar’s Office (GRO), which is responsible for the issuance of Certificates of Death.
The PPP stated that names cannot be removed from the list on the ground that persons are dead, unless confirmation is received from the GRO.
According to the PPP, GECOM issued five lists of persons who have died between December 2015, and March 2016. One of the lists is of persons who died, but whose names are not on the List of Registered Electors.
The PPP said it conducted a review of the list and to its surprise, discovered a significant number of the ‘dead’, who are in fact alive and rightly on the List of Registered Electors.
As far as the seven-member commission of GECOM is concerned all options for sanitizing the list remain open.
“As long as the Commission thinks it is the best route, we will go there. Getting consensus might be a problem because we have experts on both camps. We will advertise the decision we take, but have not ruled out house-to-house verification. We are working towards the consensus,” Patterson stated.
The GECOM Chair recognized that the time results take to be declared is too long. He explained that this is an area that the IT expert must address.
“We definitely have to do something about the time it takes to deliver results, but it is too early to pronounce on that, but certainly we need to have the elections pronounced quicker than in the past.”
“I really can’t say what options are available because I am not the Commission. Nothing has been decided upon and when that is done that will be made public,” Patterson stated.
He said the Commission is in the process of filling other critical positions including the Legal Officer and Public Relations Officer. There are also efforts to appoint a Deputy Chief Elections Officer at the Secretariat.
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