… Advocated for voting in ‘neutral environment…free from intimidation’
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has faced criticism from the political opposition on its decision to reduce the number of private polling stations it will use in the 2020 election. The private polling stations being used dropped from 166 in the 2015 elections to 92 for the 2020 elections.
GECOM Chair, Justice Claudette Singh had said that the move was based on a recommendation from the Carter Centre.
The Private Sector Commission released a statement yesterday, speaking out against the reduction.
“The Private Sector Commission (PSC) takes extremely seriously the very real possibility that a significant number of voters may be disenfranchised by the changes made by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to a substantial number of polling places in a wide number of rural locations.”
It went on to allege that the statement by the Chair – that the Carter Centre addressed the use of private polling stations in its 2015 report – was false.
“The Private Sector Commission is dismayed at the claim reported in the media to have been made by the Chairman of GECOM that the decision to change the location of these polling places is in response to a recommendation made by the Carter Center that private residences, should not be used as polling places.
The PSC has checked and is informed that the Carter Center in its final report, following the 2015, elections made no such recommendation and we call upon the Carter Center to immediately, publicly make the Center’s position clear on this matter.”
It is on this and other premises that the PSC urged GECOM to reverse the “last minute changes” to the list of polling stations, and use the list previously agreed to by the Commissioners of GECOM.
While the Carter Centre did not precisely recommend a reduction in the use of private polling stations – in the recommendations section beginning on page 56, it did advocate for citizens to be given the opportunity to cast their votes in a neutral environment.
The report, titled ‘Final Report: Observing the 2015 Guyana Elections’, can be accessed from the following page on the Carter Centre’s website: https://www.cartercenter.org/news/publications/election_reports.html#guyana
On page 77 of the report, it is stated “While the establishment of polling stations on private property did not seem to negatively influence public confidence in the electoral process, GECOM should ensure that citizens can cast their ballot in a neutral environment”.
On page 94, it is stated “While the establishment of polling stations on private property did not seem to negatively influence public confidence in the electoral process, The Carter Center recommends that GECOM take steps in future elections to ensure that citizens can cast their ballot in a neutral environment free from intimidation.”
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