Dec 08, 2022 News
– to discuss demarcation of boundaries, defective voters’ list today
Kaieteur News – The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has deferred discussion regarding the demarcation of constituency boundaries and finalising the list of electors for a special meeting to be held tomorrow as the fallout continues between the Opposition and the government regarding next year’s Local Government Elections.
The elections body, during its statutory meeting Tuesday, also agreed on the use of electronic fingerprints at the place of poll, Commissioner Vincent Alexander said in an invited comment.
Alexander told this publication that yesterday’s meeting involved deliberations for a decision to be taken on the three critical matters that can impact the upcoming elections timetable. These involve whether or not GECOM will embrace electronic fingerprints at the place of poll for identification, whether in GECOM’ s opinion the Minister has the authority to demarcate constituency boundaries and whether the proposal to rectify the voters’ list by conducting a claims and objections exercise should be entertained.
Use of the electronic finger apparatus was considered, Alexander said. He told the newspaper, “It was agreed to in principle subject to a feasibility study.” He noted however, that given the elections timeline, it would be “a hard fix” to have its implementation ahead of schedule. “Two matters have been deferred to a Thursday special meeting. The power of the Minister [regarding] boundary demarcation and how the list leading up to the elections should be prepared/finalized,” Alexander related.
Decisions on some of these issues could have some effect on the timeline regarding the upcoming Local Government Elections (LGE). He suggested that the effects on the voters list where the constituencies reflecting boundaries declared by the Minister are reversed. “The list has to relate to constituencies that are legit. If they were created, they are not legit,” the Commissioner opined.
Minister of Local Government Nigel Dharamlall said last month that the government had decided to revert to the 2016 local district boundaries and widen others as part of measures to ensure greater representation of citizens in the upcoming LGE to be held in March. He told a news conference that some of the changes include Region One, Mabaruma town which would now include Wauna, Kitty-Providence and Moruca-Phoenix, located in the Lower Pomeroon, would be merged into one Neighbourhood Democratic Council and in Region Three, the Toevlugt-Patentia boundary was extended to Free and Easy, to name a few.
Both the government and Opposition parties have registered their positions for the use of biometrics during elections. The government has already stated that it will not support fingerprint identification at the place of poll, while the Opposition has described the use of the technology as an upgrade to GECOM’s system. Alexander had stated that since the High Court had ruled that the Register of Registrants could not be retired, or names deleted from it other than those of the registered dead, it implied that the extracted voters’ list would have the names of persons whose deaths were not registered, including the thousands of registered Guyanese who died overseas. In an effort to confront and prevent the mischief of those names being used for fraudulent voting, he recommended that: “provisions of the Representation of the People Act which provide for the elector ‘to hand his or her identification paper to the poll clerk’ be amended to provide for the elector to also have his or her finger prints, electronically, matched with those of the named elector which was captured at the time of registration, as the basis for the determination of his or her identity and eligibility as a particular voter/elector/registrant.” The ruling party said it would not accept the proposal given for fears that of the Opposition loss the elections it would move to the court to declare the election illegal claiming that citizens were denied the right to vote on the basis of the finger print identification requirement.
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