GECOM’s CEO says current voters’ list can be used to conduct free and fair…

first_imgGECOM’s Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield…says claims & objections exercise can update list…denies advising President that voters’ list bloated by 200,000The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield, says that a claims and objections period could be used to refresh the voters’ list which expired on April 30, 2019, and can be used to conduct the constitutionally stipulated General and Regional Elections.Lowenfield was at the time being questioned on the side-lines of a High Court hearing on Tuesday, where he went to represent GECOM in the Court challenge mounted against by Anti-Corruption Advocate Christopher Ram, who was seeking an injunction against the current House-to-House Registration.“That’s correct. It always has (been updated by claims and objections) and always will,” Lowenfield said when asked if the previous voters’ list could be used in a free and fair elections. He noted that it could with claims and objections.“I’m saying to you, we have a list that was expired at April 30… the list as at 30th April was the list that was used for our elections, registration and so on. Bloated is not a word I would affix to it,” Lowenfield added.Never advised PresidentLowenfield also admitted that he never advised the President that the voters’ list was bloated with 200,000 names, raising questions about where President David Granger got such information.The Government had claimed that the possible existence of 200,000 extra names necessitated House-to-House Registration— an exercise that could further delay elections. But on Tuesday, on the side-lines of the High Court, Lowenfield denied that he advised the President in this direction.“I have not engaged His Excellency on the numbers game. And I cannot pronounce on that… it’s speculative. I would want to do an exercise to determine that amount,” Lowenfield said when asked about the President’s comments.House-to-House Registration began on Saturday. On Tuesday, the Court denied an application for an interim order suspending the activity.Delaying tacticOpposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo and the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) have long contended that house-to-house was no more than a delaying tactic pushed by the Government through its Commissioners in order to hold on to power and push back the holding of General and Regional Elections.They have long held the view that claims and objections could be used to clean up the voters’ list, rather than the scrapping of the entire database. This view has also been supported by several sections of society, including the Private Sector Commission (PSC).Only recently, Chairman of the PSC Gerry Gouveia wrote a stinging letter to Lowenfield, in which he upbraided the CEO for starting the House-to-House Registration when a Chairman of GECOM has not been appointed.Specifically, Gouveia had pointed out that with 10 cycles of continuous registration and claims and objection since the last house-to-house exercise, there could be no logical justification for the need for the exercise.When it comes to claims that 200,000 extra entries are on the voters list, the PSC had noted at the time that GECOM has never verified this through a field test, a point corroborated by Lowenfield on Tuesday. Even if it were true, Gouveia wrote, there are too many systems in polling stations to allow double voting to occur.GECOM’s own legal officer, Excellence Dazzel, advised the commission that instead of going to House-to-House Registration and breaking the law, GECOM should be updating the voters’ list for the elections in accordance with Section 7, (1) of the Elections Amendment Act (2000). For her advice, Dazzel was criticised by the Government-nominated GECOM Commissioners.The house-to-house exercise, which was last conducted in 2008, will see enumerators going in teams of two to three, from door to door, in various communities across Guyana. The enumerators will present forms to registrants to fill up, as well as take fingerprints and pictures.It is understood that these enumerators work from 15:30h to 18:30h during the week and from 09:00h to 16:00h on weekends and holidays. The exercise is intended to produce a new National Register of Registrants Database and Official List of Electors.President David Grangerlast_img read more

Learn more →