Is there a need for House to House Registration?
The Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo, opines not. In fact, for all the arguments the government has made to support its contention that House-to-House registration is necessary, Jagdeo believes that he has already provided solutions, but that they have fallen on deaf ears.
At his press conference at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition yesterday, he iterated that the government would realise that any point it raises at this time would be moot, if only it heeded his suggestions. Even then, he said that government would not have had to worry about the prospect of an unclean list if it had moved to prepare for elections, without procrastinating after December 21, 2018, when the motion of no-confidence was carried.
Jagdeo said that complaints about the list being bloated are insincere, because government used that list to hold Local Government Elections last November. The same commissioners – the three which are government aligned – hadn’t complained about the list about that time, but they’re doing so now because they are part of a conspiracy with government to delay elections, according to the Opposition Leader.
Nevertheless, Jagdeo sought to dispel the government’s arguments once more. One of the reasons at the forefront of government’s argument is that young people will be disenfranchised. Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, had raised that contention that persons aged 15-17 at the time of the last election would now be eligible to vote, and that they should be added to the list.
Jagdeo said that he provided a solution for this many times. Firstly, Jagdeo had argued that the General Registrar’s Office (GRO) already made provisions for persons who would turn 18 before the cut-off date, and that their names are already on the National Register of Registrants, which was updated in October 2018. Jagdeo said that the new names would simply have to be added to the Official List of Electors.
Asked yesterday whether he could provide a way to have new voters registered, including changes of address for persons who have moved, Jagdeo had suggested a one-week registration process, followed by a second week for claims and objections.
“If the desire is there, they can easily do a one-week continuous registration and urge everybody to come, starting that next week, because they have these offices already; that’s where the people go. Then, [put aside] one week more for claims and objections.”
Ramjattan had also supported his advocacy for House-to House registration by saying that there are many persons who are dead, and should be removed from the list.
Jagdeo had said that this issue could be cleared up “simply by getting the record from the GRO, sharing these records with the two political parties, publishing their names in the newspapers. Then after two weeks, you remove the names from the list, and you clear out all the dead people.”
“They’ve argued that there are dead people on the list and we have outlined a process through which they can clear the list of dead people.”
Jagdeo said that the People’s Progressive Party has already argued to ensure there is no fraudulent voting, using the identities of people who have already migrated, suggesting a strengthening of all polling day procedures.
He said that he had made a proposal to the President about how that could be done. This proposal includes an enhancement of representation from GECOM at the polling places, cameras in every polling place, as well as international observers stationed at each polling place.
“So whether the list is bloated or not,” Jagdeo contends that those measures would still provide enough security to prevent persons from voting fraudulently.
He said that any reason the government provides to try to advocate for House-to-House registration is insincere, because its primary motive is that it does not want General and Regional Elections to be held at this time.
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