The Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Justice Claudette Singh, has said that all the oil in Guyana cannot force her to compromise her integrity. No one ever said that it could.
The Chairperson’s integrity is not at all in question. What is not beyond doubt is the smooth running of the elections machinery and its susceptibility to manipulation.
Another Singh – Doodnauth Singh – discovered how easy it was for a small number of persons to disrupt the post-voting systems. Just when he thought all systems were impregnable, certain polling agents, from parts of Georgetown alone, ran off with the results after the votes had been counted. Some of them ran to Congress Place with their Statements of Poll. Others placed the Statements of Poll, which should have been sent to the Returning Officer, in the ballot boxes. What ended up happening is that the elections result could not be verified immediately and the delays fuelled claims of electoral fraud.
Integrity alone will not guarantee free fair and orderly elections. Systems must be in place to ensure the integrity of the process, including the production of a credible Revised List of Elections (RLE).
Right now there is a major bone of contention about the Preliminary Voters’ List. Thousands of new registrants, who are over 18 years and therefore eligible to vote, are unverified. This can be a possible source of casting aspersions on the results after the elections.
It is therefore incumbent upon the Elections Commission to ensure that every single one of these unverified persons can be accounted for. There have been reports from the PPPC that in certain instances – it did not state how many – empty lots were at some addresses.
The fact that a registrant may not be home at the time when the verification exercise was taking place does not mean that the person does not exist. But when empty lots are alleged to have been used as addresses, it does raise warning signals about possible padding of the voters’ list.
The last general election was a close race. APNU won by a narrow margin. It is in this context that concerns are being expressed about the large numbers of new registrants who are unverified. A few thousand unverified voters can very well determine the outcome of the elections.
The Elections Commission therefore has an obligation to ensure that the concerns about the integrity of the Revised List of Elections are answered satisfactorily. Unless this happens, the whole elections will be shrouded in suspicion.
In such circumstances, the Chairperson of GECOM will find that not even her impeccable integrity will erase those suspicions. These will exist once the concerns being expressed about unverified data are not satisfactorily addressed.
Some persons are worried about the merging of unverified data with verified data. They see here a potential for electoral manipulation. It fuels the anxieties of the many persons who are of the view that the PNCR will rig the elections. Many still do not trust the PNCR when it comes to elections. Its past still haunts it.
And so speculation is rife about the various scenarios that could compromise the integrity of the polls. But no one seems concerned as yet about the possibility that the revised list of elections may already have been compromised – firstly by fake registrations and, secondly, by underage persons overstating their ages during the registration exercise when there were no Opposition observers around.
The integrity of the list is therefore of critical importance. GECOM has to ensure that it conducts a thorough investigation into the allegations of empty lots being given as the addresses of some registrants. If this allegation is found to be true, then it has serious implications for the freeness and fairness of the elections.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper)
Jun 07, 2020The Guyana Cricket Board said in a release that they are expressing bewilderment on the omission of Veerasammy Permaul from the Windies upcoming tour of England. The release noted, “Permaul’s...
Jun 07, 2020
Jun 06, 2020
Jun 06, 2020
Jun 06, 2020
Jun 05, 2020
In my 50 years of struggle and 32 years in the media, I have been called nasty, vulgar, defaming things that I expected... 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]