The majority decision-making of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) leaves much to be desired. Following closely on the heels of the fiasco over the selection of a Deputy Chief Elections Officer, GECOM finds itself embroiled in another controversy – this time the rejection of a request from the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) for an extension of the period of continuous registration.
GECOM, in rejecting this request, has sought refuge in the statutory deadlines which govern cycles of continuous registration. The present cycle which began in May ended a few days ago. With local government elections due this year, the PPPC wanted the registration period extended, so as to allow those who have reached the age of registration but were unable to register, to do so. GECOM checkmated this request.
The excuse given by GECOM is loathsome. GECOM is essentially saying that its hands are tied by the laws which regulate the period of each continuous cycle of registration. GECOM’s excuse does not pass muster. In previous elections, there was an extension to allow for unregistered persons to register. This required legislative changes which was accommodated by the then PPPC government.
GECOM cannot prejudge how the APNU+AFC would have responded to a similar request. Its duty was to determine whether there was merit in the PPPC’s request for an extension. Once there is merit, GECOM should have requested that legislative changes, if necessary, be made to facilitate the extension of the registration.
The merits of the PPPC’s request are not contingent on statutory deadlines – these can be amended by a request to the government to take the necessary legislative action. The merits of the PPPC requests are about whether there were sufficient numbers of persons who would be disenfranchised by the closure of the present cycle of continuous registration. If a case was made out, GECOM should have acceded to the PPPC’s request.
GECOM is not refusing the extension on the basis that no such case has been made out. It is saying that it is statutorily constrained from allowing the extension. That is not an impediment which cannot be overcome. It has been in the past, and it can again, once there is the political will to do so.
The purpose of registration, indeed the mission of GECOM, is to reduce disenfranchisement. As far as possible, GECOM should always be in the lead in terms of ensuring that every eligible elector is registered and allowed to vote. Enfranchisement is a prerequisite of democracy.
GECOM therefore should not hide behind the excuse of statutory limitations. GECOM’s work should be about enfranchising every elector. So long as GECOM is of the opinion that there are significant numbers of persons who are likely to be disenfranchised, the elections body should take steps, including requesting statutory authority for extensions, to ensure that every eligible voter is registered.
But since GECOM is now so concerned about complying with statutory provisions, it should explain what action it has taken in responding to the findings of the special audit undertaken by the Office of the Auditor General into its procurement practices.
Under the law, GECOM is obligated to provide a response to the Auditor General within a specified time. The Auditor General has given GECOM some extra time, but the public is yet to learn as to what was its response to the findings of the investigation into allegations of corruption within GECOM.
May 28, 2020Says managerial, analytical & listening skills key to Captaincy By Sean Devers Guyana and West Indies cricketer Leon Johnson hails from the Amerindian Village of Aratac in Santa Mission, a...
May 28, 2020
May 28, 2020
May 27, 2020
May 26, 2020
May 26, 2020
Whenever a political party loses an election, there are always implications for the leaders of that party. The APNU and... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders Caribbean countries are, once again, being placed in a difficult position as they try to navigate... more
Editor’s Note, If your sent letter was not published and you felt its contents were valid and devoid of libel or personal attacks, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]