House-to-House Registration in Guyana to End Early and Preparations Made for Elections

Chair of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), retired justice Claudette Singh announced yesterday that the exercise would come to an end on August 31, almost two months early.

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Wednesday August 28, 2019 – The house-to-house registration exercise that began on July 20 and was supposed to last three months as electoral officials compiled a new voters list ahead of mandated polls, has been cut short.

Chair of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), retired justice Claudette Singh announced yesterday that it would come to an end on August 31, almost two months early.

She said the data gathered up to that point will be merged with the existing National Register of Registrants Database to produce a credible Official List of Electors (OLE).

GECOM added that it will move to an extensive Claims and Objections Exercise before extracting the Preliminary List of Electors (PLE).

Her decision came on the heels of an August 14th decision by Acting Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire that while the exercise was neither unlawful nor unconstitutional, it was not necessary to validate the register of electors and GECOM should consider other options, including a period of claims and objections.

“The Commission will continue to further deliberate on other matters of importance for the holding of General and Regional Elections within the shortest possible time and Secretariat will continue to implement a number of operations activities, in particular training of polling day staff and procurement of non-sensitive materials,” GECOM said in a statement yesterday.

Following Singh’s decision, Charles Corbin, one of the government-appointed GECOM Commissioners, assured that the merger would guarantee a credible election process “because it means all of the persons who have been registered have actually been verified to exist.”

He added that a timeline for the way forward will be made available after the commission meets again.

“That matter has now been settled, the data will be used. How it will be used, the procedures to be followed and the time it will take to implement those procedures are yet to be determined,” he noted.

Meanwhile, Vincent Alexander, another of the government-appointed GECOM Commissioners, insisted that the merger of the new and old data was essential to allow for a free and fair process.

“What’s important is that the House-to-House information will not be discarded as was required by others and that information is integral to the process,” he said.

Stating that the government commissioners would respect the GECOM chair’s decision and are moving forward accordingly, he added: “It’s not a matter of what I support, it’s a matter of what decision the commission has made.”

The House-to-House Registration process has so far seen almost 300,000 verified registrants.

GECOM had been insisting on the registration exercise before regional and general elections – due following the December 2018 passage of a no-confidence vote against the coalition government – are held.

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