The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) notes the belated decision of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to discontinue house-to-house registration on August 31, 2019.
House-to-house registration, as conceived by GECOM to create a new National Register of Registrants, by removing names of eligible voters, has been deemed unconstitutional by the High Court.
The ruling of the Chief Justice, Roxanne George-Wiltshire, on August 14, 2019 said:
“(Paragraph 141) A reading of all the relevant provisions leads to the inevitable and ineluctable conclusion that GECOM does not have the discretion without more to remove the name of a person from the list of registrants or electors because such a person who was previously registered has not re-registered during a house to house registration exercise.”
“(Paragraph 161) GECOM would have no legal authority to remove or de-register such persons who are otherwise qualified unless such registration can be cancelled...these persons may have to return to their districts to vote, but their names cannot ipso facto be removed from the register of registrants, which removal would then disqualify them from and deprive them of their right to vote. To do so would be unconstitutional and therefore illegal.”
For weeks now, the Party’s General Secretary, Bharrat Jagdeo, has said that house-to-house registration, in addition to being a waste of taxpayers’ resources, was intended to delay the holding of General and Regional Elections, which should have been held since March 21, 2019.
Further, the Party is of the view that the decision made by GECOM today, is the only logical decision that could have been made.
Additionally, the PPP notes several misleading positions that were communicated to the Guyanese people via a press statement issued by GECOM – positions that seem intent on confusing the Guyanese electorate.
First, the headline of the press statement – ‘Data garnered from House-to-House Registration will be merged with existing National Register of Registrants Database’ – leaves more unanswered questions. What data exactly is being merged with the National Register of
Registrants? Is it the entire 270,000-plus persons that GECOM claimed to have registered, including persons who were re-registered? If it is only the new registrants, why embark on this process, which will take several months to be completed, when it could easily be done in a Claims and Objections period.
Secondly, the GECOM press statement said: “Based on the ruling of the Chief Justice on 14th August 2019 that House to House Registration is not unlawful and is constitutional, the data garnered from that registration exercise must be merged with the existing National Register of Registrants Database.” This is an attempt to distort the ruling of the High Court. Nowhere in the ruling of the Chief Justice did she direct any such merger of data garnered from the house-to-house registration with the National Register of Registrants.
Thirdly, the GECOM press statement said: “In this regard the Commission will move to an extensive Claim and Objections Exercise before extracting the Preliminary List of Electors (PLE).” The author of the GECOM press statement seems clearly confused on the process that must be followed to arrive at an Official List of Electors – saying that there will be Claims and Objections Exercise before a Preliminary List of Electors is produced. In accordance with practice and law, Claims and Objections must be preceded by the publication of a Preliminary List of Electors.
We reiterate the position of the PPP, which is that the planned merger of data from the house-to- house registration will not improve the quality or ‘credibility’ of the database – rather it will further contaminate the National Register of Registrants and cause further delays in the holding of Elections.
That said, the Party urges GECOM to move decisively by immediately launching a Claims and Objections exercise, which will allow those who are not on the National Register of Registrants and are eligible to be properly registered.
People’s Progressive Party
August 27, 2019