… to cater for new registrants
By Kemol King
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo is willing to accept the use of data from the truncated House-to-House exercise, but only a very limited amount, and on condition that it is subject to proper scrutiny.
He met with the Chair of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Justice Claudette Singh last Tuesday, to explain to her, his position on the use of the House-to-House data.
During a press conference at his Church Street office yesterday, the former President elaborated on the contents of his discussion with Justice Singh, pointing out that he is prepared to make a small concession to ensure new voters are not disenfranchised.
It had been discussed during a previous press conference with the Opposition Leader that if the House-to-House data is disregarded in its entirety, it could have the unfortunate effect of leaving out many prospective voters. This is because persons were told by GECOM that if they did register during House-to-House, they wouldn’t have to register again during Claims and Objections.
Jagdeo yesterday was explicit in saying that the House-to-House data should not be used at all, but that he wants to ensure every eligible voter gets the opportunity to participate in the electoral process. The condition to his concession that limited data could be used is that a list of the new registrants from the House-to-House data be shared with the political parties, and that GECOM’s staff visit their addresses with accompanying scrutineers from the political parties.
“They can do that within a couple of days or so. We can do that swiftly,” Jagdeo said.
Even then, he has concerns about just how many new registrants the cross-matching of the House-to-House data has purported there to be. He said that it is not plausible that there are 60,000 new registrants from the House-to-House data alone.
This statement appears to be based on the premise that the second tranche of cross-matched data has already returned from the overseas supplier, Gemalto. The first tranche had arrived a long time ago, and it had shown nearly 30,000 new registrants, including persons aged 14 to 17.
The second tranche should have returned by now. However, GECOM’s Public Relations Officer, Yolanda Ward, couldn’t be reached to confirm this.
The Opposition Leader said that his party’s own assessment of the House-to-House data has shown glaring inaccuracies. For instance, he said that some names listed as new registrants already appear on the Preliminary List of Electors (PLE).
That would imply that they cannot be new registrants.
In another case, Jagdeo said that a number of persons were registered to an address in Bartica, but a visit to that address showed that most of the registrants did not actually reside at that address, which is not too far from the GECOM registration office serving that area.
Jagdeo said that GECOM may very well have to go through the list manually to ensure that the list is not inaccurate.
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