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Chairperson Justice (ret’d) Claudette Singh

February 22 2020

Source

-amid PPP concerns

Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chairperson Justice (ret’d) Claudette Singh has defended the decision to reduce the amount of private residences used as polling stations and to rely more on public buildings.

Her defence came as the opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic ramped up its complaints about the reduction in polling places as the March 2nd general elections nears.

Speaking with reporters during the Disciplined Services vote yesterday, PPP/C Presidential Candidate Irfaan Ali complained that his party supporters would be disadvantaged by a reduction in the use of private residences as places of poll.

At the time he was echoing concerns his party raised in a press statement issued on Thursday evening.

In the statement the PPP/C claimed that GECOM had “discriminatorily and unfairly” applied the decision to discontinue the use of private residences as there are many private residences being used in Georgetown and along the East Bank of Demerara as polling stations while their strongholds have seen a significant reduction.

“We consider this latest development as yet another attempt by GECOM to frustrate voters, suppress and hinder voting and create possible confusion on Elections Day,” the statement said.

In responding to the accusation, Singh said that the commission was implementing a recommendation from an international observer, the Carter Center.

“Those have been reduced because they’re using public buildings, it’s not that the polling stations are removed in the area, it’s just the private residences –they’re moving away from those…well that was a recommendation made by the Carter Center…Why would you use private residences when you have a public place?” she told media operatives at the Brickdam Police Station.

She explained that of the 2,339 polling stations that have been finalized, 92 are located at private residences.

Two of the PPP/C’s major concerns are still to be answered by GECOM. These are whether in concentrating on public buildings voters now have to travel longer distances to polling stations and whether some public buildings will be too congested on polling day because of the increase in voting stations.

The PPP on Thursday cited a number of problem areas including Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara. It said that with almost 7,000 electors, GECOM has reduced the number of polling places from ten to two, eliminating completely all private residences, while cramping all the polling stations into two schools situated at the same location. This, it said, will definitely result in confusion.

The opposition party also cited La Grange on the West Bank of Demerara, where there is no polling place in what is a very populated community and the residents are expected to vote in the neighbouring village of Bagotville, which is known to be an APNU stronghold.

Chief Election Officer Keith Lowenfield also indicated that private residences were only used in circumstances where there is absolutely no public or other building that could be used and maintained and that all polling stations are tied into the ordinary route of citizens.

“If you live at 9th street to get to 1st you walk or use other means of transport. We are not taking away the ordinary route,” he stressed.

The Carter Center Report on the 2015 General and Regional Elections noted that because of the lack of state establishments in some areas, 166 (or 7%) of the 2,299 polling stations across the country were located in private buildings and residences.

It added that while the establishment of polling stations on private property did not seem to negatively influence public confidence in the electoral process, GECOM should take steps in future elections to ensure that citizens can cast their ballot in a neutral environment free from intimidation.

Additionally both major parties have in the past raised objections to the use of private residences as polling places.

In 2015, David Patterson told Stabroek News that the APNU+AFC coalition wanted public places to be used as stations over private residences.

On that same day the then General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party Clement Rohee stated that the party was leery of the use of private residences as polling stations. “The PPP has made previous calls on GECOM to avoid as much as possible the use of private residences in preference for public and better known buildings as polling stations,” he told a press conference.

Yesterday, President David Granger raised similar concerns, claiming that “In the past when the PPP was in government, it was apparent to us in the opposition then that some of the private residences were so obscure that many of our supporters couldn’t find them and, in fact, some of them were changed at the last moment.”

He stressed that there is no attempt on the part of the government-nominated elections commissioners or the members of the coalition to disenfranchise anyone but there were numerous abuses in the past in terms of the selection of private residences.

“Some of them were obscure, some of them were in houses of active political advocates and many persons not associated with the administration at that time were disenfranchised. I am very confident it will not happen. I am confident that the Elections Commission, which is in charge of elections, will make the right decision,” he said.

Alli in turn dismissed Granger’s comments.

“This is the first time I’m hearing about that.  At no election did the PNCR or any other party complain. This is just an excuse how suddenly when this issue is raised he turns to this? Why wasn’t this raised before? It is just an excuse and a lousy one,” he declared.

PPP Executive secretary Zulfikar Mustapha, who was with Ali at the time, emphasised that the party was never involved in the selection of polling places. Rather they were agreed to by GECOM and the political parties.

Original Post
ksazma posted:
Totaram posted:

It is not clear if they are talking about locations of polling stations.  A large facility like a school could have several polling stations.

Everyone does not live nest door to the school.

If they want to vote then they will have to go to their polling station.  Isn't that how it is done all over the world?

Totaram posted:
ksazma posted:
Totaram posted:

It is not clear if they are talking about locations of polling stations.  A large facility like a school could have several polling stations.

Everyone does not live nest door to the school.

If they want to vote then they will have to go to their polling station.  Isn't that how it is done all over the world?

In Paradise, where I live we have early voting where we can walk into any early voting place and vote. It is only on elections day that we have to go to our designated precinct. But that is besides the point. Guyanese don't have as many facilities as we do and taking away a polling place which is close to where those people live will place an undue hardship on them. So while I am comfortable with eliminating private residences as polling places we will know when it is all said and done if GECOM was universal in that edict or if they were just selective. At the very least, GECOM could have installed a mobile unit in close proximity to the places they eliminated so that voters don't have to travel beyond their means to vote.

The Carter Center Report on the 2015 General and Regional Elections noted that because of the lack of state establishments in some areas, 166 (or 7%) of the 2,299 polling stations across the country were located in private buildings and residences.

She [GECOM Chairman] explained that of the 2,339 polling stations that have been finalized, 92 are located at private residences.

The PPP on Thursday cited a number of problem areas including Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara. It said that with almost 7,000 electors, GECOM has reduced the number of polling places from ten to two, eliminating completely all private residences, while cramping all the polling stations into two schools situated at the same location. This, it said, will definitely result in confusion.

 

Where are the problems ,the Opposition crying foul about ? there is an increase in polling Stations and the numbers of private residences used as polling stations have decreased. Schools are larger buildings ,which can have numbers of Polling Booths.

Mon Repos ,number of  Electors isn't 7,000 , actually it's 6,575 if all exists.

Last edited by Django
ksazma posted:
Django posted:
ksazma posted:

Are we able to ascertain if any of those private residences were used as polling stations for the 2016 and 2018 LGE?

Not sure , no much detailed data on LGE.

It may help us understand if this change is truly connected to the 2015 Carter Center recommendation or not.

There are not much observation of LGE .The recommendations from the Carter Center are for General and Regional Elections.

Why not use Churches, Mandir’s,  Masjid's, Community Centres, Market places where the public goes or are opened for the public. Why are private residences used in APNU strongholds. The important thing for me is voters constitutional right to vote. Easy access to cast their ballots to undertake their constitutional right is equally important. If you do not have public buildings in every area to allow for easy access, use whatever is available, be it private residences etc. until you put public buildings in every village to allow for voting. Government generally don’t leave what is and has been working, they have to F@ck it up first and then fix it up later. BTW, do they have evidence that their was/were fraud, problems, discrimination, malpractice or anything not neutral using private residences in the past? 

GECOM had five years to implement the Carter Centre recommendations. What were they doing during this time. Collecting free salaries for doing nothing? It is very suspicious that suddenly this issue has been brought to light. I firmly believe that Claudette Singh and Lowenfield are getting their orders to rig at any cost this election. Claudette Singh and Lowenfield are both corrupt individuals? You tell why you feel otherwise. I have an open mind and can understand reason. ZARA, I don’t want to hear from you. Go back to school and learn English.

Sean posted:

Don, I am worried about voters suppression. Why have private residence polling stations in PNC strongholds ? That is where there stuffing of ballots can occur. Don't PNC strongholds have schools too ? 

Jail Lowenfield rass after the election. Regardless of their efforts, PPP will win fair and square.

This voter suppression is bigger than you think. It is massive and in full operation. If private residences are good for APNU strongholds it should be good for all other political parties stronghold, until the problem is fixed.

Dondadda posted:

GECOM had five years to implement the Carter Centre recommendations. What were they doing during this time. Collecting free salaries for doing nothing? It is very suspicious that suddenly this issue has been brought to light. I firmly believe that Claudette Singh and Lowenfield are getting their orders to rig at any cost this election. Claudette Singh and Lowenfield are both corrupt individuals? You tell why you feel otherwise. I have an open mind and can understand reason. ZARA, I don’t want to hear from you. Go back to school and learn English.

I so agree with you. APNU knows they can’t win this election, so rigging is the only alternative and GECOM is working with them. 

Dondadda posted:
Sean posted:

Don, I am worried about voters suppression. Why have private residence polling stations in PNC strongholds ? That is where there stuffing of ballots can occur. Don't PNC strongholds have schools too ? 

Jail Lowenfield rass after the election. Regardless of their efforts, PPP will win fair and square.

This voter suppression is bigger than you think. It is massive and in full operation. If private residences are good for APNU strongholds it should be good for all other political parties stronghold, until the problem is fixed.

Based on what I am hearing, rigging is their plan in light of foreign observers. Thats how a dictatorship starts.

Time will tell if the Carter Center will still be able to make this statement after next week's elections.

"The administration of elections has improved significantly since 1992 when deep distrust over all aspects of the electoral process reigned. The appointment of election commissioners is institutionalized, a system of continuous voter registration is in place, citizens and all stakeholders jealously guard the right to count votes at the place of poll, and countless aspects of election management have become routinized. Nevertheless, elections are a time of high anxiety for many, and several measures can be taken to reduce this aspect of Guyana’s electoral process." 

Sean posted:

This will be as test for Carter Centre. I understand that the PPP is aware of the possibility of massive PNC rigging but don't want to spook their supporters. Lets see if the international community will tackle and address this.

Regarding International Observers - if the purpose of their mission is to ensure free and fair elections and all this is happening before their eyes and they are remaining silent, I can only draw one conclusion and that is that they are colluding with APNU/GECOM to rig the election. Let me stay this. If they know this is going on they should speak with the stakeholders now and fix the problems rather than waiting for after the elections to write a frigging report about their findings. I am surprised that Jean Pierre Kingsley ( the former Chief Elections Officer from Canada) is present and all this shit is going on. 

Sean posted:

This will be as test for Carter Centre. I understand that the PPP is aware of the possibility of massive PNC rigging but don't want to spook their supporters. Lets see if the international community will tackle and address this.

Spook their supporters?  They did that when Ali was selected as the presidential candidate.

Bai Tola like you rass blind and a bit dumb too na ?   The PPP is getting the largest amount of supporters at political meetings EVER in the history of the Party.  
Clean the boo boo from your eyes and your biases and you will become balanced. Until then you are whobbling from pillar for post. 

Granger rass can’t even walk a half a mile and is half dead and is clutching at straws. 

Don’t get me going rass. 

Last edited by Former Member
Sean posted:

Bai Tola like you rass blind and a bit dumb too ?  The PPP is getting the largest amount of supporters at political meeting EVER in the history of the Party.  
Clean the boo boo from your eyes and your biases and you will become balanced. Until then you are whobbling from pillar for post. 

It is you who should wake up to the reality of the PPP presidential candidate being a crook.  We'll see how the people react on March 2.  Any reports on how the security personnel voted?

Sean posted:

Bai Tola like you rass blind and a bit dumb too na ?   The PPP is getting the largest amount of supporters at political meetings EVER in the history of the Party.  
Clean the boo boo from your eyes and your biases and you will become balanced. Until then you are whobbling from pillar for post. 

Granger rass can’t even walk a half a mile and is half dead and is clutching at straws. 

Don’t get me going rass. 

Sean, large crowds means nothing. It is getting the voters out to the polls to vote is what counts. Right now that is the challenge.

Totaram posted:
Sean posted:

Bai Tola like you rass blind and a bit dumb too ?  The PPP is getting the largest amount of supporters at political meeting EVER in the history of the Party.  
Clean the boo boo from your eyes and your biases and you will become balanced. Until then you are whobbling from pillar for post. 

It is you who should wake up to the reality of the PPP presidential candidate being a crook.  We'll see how the people react on March 2.  Any reports on how the security personnel voted?

Historically, they voted for PNC/APNU. Nothing will change. Have you forgotten “Kith and Kin” .