May 12, 2022 News
… says method transparent and no one will be disenfranchised
By Zena Henry
Kaieteur News – As part of his contribution to the proposed amendments to the Representation of the Peoples Act (RoPA), Guyana Elections Commissioner (GECOM), Vincent Alexander is offering the use of biometric system to improve the voting procedures associated with elections.
The opposition representative is suggesting the technology to ensure that all persons who cast a ballot during elections do not do so in the name of deceased persons, migrants and other absent individuals.
Alexander told the Kaieteur News that the mechanism will be part of the suggestions being offered in relation to the election law reform. “Our proposal was not on the substance. It was more on the procedure, but I am pushing the biometric idea,” the Commissioner told the newspaper. The biometric system is a type of technology, which uses a person’s organic information such as finger print or retina to identify them. Alexander explained that this mechanism would allow therefore that, “only the real person would be allowed in [the polling station to vote].”
The issue of dead persons being on the voters’ list has long existed. The Opposition, A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC), has argued strongly that the voter’s list is bloated with the names of deceased persons as those names remained on the National Register of Registrants. This situation, they maintain, has caused irregularities, for instance, at the 2020 General Elections where persons have accessed identification cards and voted in the name of the dead and other absent persons.
Just over a week ago, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo suggested his own mechanism for sanitizing the Register of Registrants. He said that Chief Election Officer (CEO) would create a list of all the dead people from the General Register Office and compare it to the list of registrants every year. The list, he said would be shared with all the political parties and would be publicized in the newspapers; thus allowing others to be involved in the removal process, rather than GECOM doing it on its own.
Alexander has nonetheless shot down the VP’s proposal since he said that proposition would not address the core issue, which is, the removal of deceased persons who are not registered as such. He said that those names would remain on the list of National Register of Registrants from which the voter’s list is created. Additionally, there is already a monthly provision of registered deaths by the General Register Office (GRO), Alexander pointed out.
The GECOM Commissioner said however that given a High Court ruling that the adjustment of names on the Register of Registrants cannot be done through house-to-house registration, the biometric system would directly address the issue of ghost voting without having to remove any name (dead or alive) from the voter’s list.
In the meantime, GECOM Commissioners still have not met to discuss contributions on the reform of elections laws. The VP had said that the most substantive contributions came from GECOM and a civil society body called the Electoral Reform Group (ERG). But Alexander has argued that, “GECOM has had no discussion on the substance of any reform and therefore it cannot be claimed that any submission is a product of the Commission.”
Chairwoman, Justice Claudette Singh also confirmed that the Commission had not met as a group to discuss the contributions on the reform legislation. As such, the item returned to the Commission’s agenda and was up for discussion at last Tuesday’s statutory meeting. Alexander, who has been calling for a “comprehensive” report on the contributions, informed that the matter was still not addressed. He said that, “we did not get past matters arising from the minutes.” Alexander is adamant however that even if the Commission is not unified on the contributions, at least the report would show the majority and minority views coming out of the Commission’s discussions. People’s Progressive Party Commissioner Bibi Shadick is one who mentioned the time that GECOM took “to get its affairs in order” and thus submitted her contributions to the government directly.” She said she is not interested in having internal discussions at GECOM.
Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall commenced the first installment of public consultations on the draft electoral laws at the Boardroom of the Attorney General’s Chambers. This engagement dealt specifically with the draft amendments to the Representation of the People’s Act, which was publicly circulated by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, inviting a review, written recommendations and views on the proposed law. Last November, the government released the proposed amendments to the Representation of the People Act (RoPA).
Pres. Ali putting water meters on the citizens in Berbice, and not meters on Exxon oil pumps.
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