OAS Electoral Observation Mission in Guyana. The report reflects the activities undertaken by the Mission during the observation of the general and regional elections in Guyana, held on August 28, 2006.
List of Electors
Preparations for the 2006 elections were from an early stage a topic of political contention.Opposition concerns centered on the accuracy of the 2001 Official List of Electors (OLE), with claims that the list contained the names of up to 100,000 dead or otherwise ineligible voters. Joint opposition parties called for a house-to-house verification exercise to sanitise the 2001 OLE of ineligible entries before it was merged with the data from the 2006 registration exercise to create anew national register.
In May, a group consisting of members of the PNCR, WPA, and ROAR
political parties protested outside the GECOM building, threatening to take to the streets if this demand was not met. There were further PNCR protests in June, where marchers burned copies of the Preliminary List of Electors (PLE) outside the GECOM building. (These protests were peaceful and no violence or damage to property occurred.) GECOM responded that time constraints precluded a complete house-to-house verification exercise prior to the 2006 elections and this was not carried out.
It asserted that the continuous registration process (October 2005 to March 2006), combined with a limited field verification exercise, database integrity tests, and the Claims and Objections period,produced a highly accurate list. GECOM completed an extended 35 day Claims and Objections period between May and June 2006. At the close of the period some 14,668 claims (including 7,403 new registrants, 4,115
transfers, and 3,150 change of name/corrections were received). About 12,000 objections were received, the majority on the basis of non-residence. Hearings of such objections were conducted in a quasi-judicial fashion.
Complaints heard at those hearings attended by the OAS Mission included the lack of clear guidelines for evidence to be presented in the case of objection to persons who do not reside at the address listed on the PLE; the short period between the dispatch of notices for the hearings and the actual hearings; and the “symbolic” nature of the process.GECOM sought various legal opinions regarding the residency qualification of persons named on the 2001 OLE. In the end, it did not seek a formal legal ruling, anticipating that this would cause untenable delays to the 2006 elections.
The Electoral Assistance Bureau conducted an analysis of the Preliminary List of Electors,which included computer, in-house and field tests. Results, released in June 2006, indicated that 93.99% (+/- 2.93%) of the electors on the 2006 PLE could be accounted for; less than 1,046 duplicates existed on the PLE, representing less than 0.22% of the total number of electors; no person under 18 at the qualifying date or who had not been assigned a National Identity Card was on the list; and 98.41% (+/-2.89%) of the electors on the PLE were placed in their correct divisions. The results were based on a check of records of the random sample of 1,199. The EAB made its findings available in a press release on June 22, 2006.12
The Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) conducted a finger-print scanning exercise to quantify duplicate names in the PLE. The exercise included the 450,000 names from the 2001 OLE and the additional 72,000 registrants from the continuous registration process. Of the 522,000 finger-prints, only 25% were considered high quality; some 60% ranged from average to poor. More than 78,000 (15%) were illegible and could not be verified. Moreover, the EOJ noted that some 26,000 names did not correspond to their registration numbers, due probably to data-entry errors. It estimated that
approximately 5,200 duplicate registrations appeared to be “fraudulent.” The EOJ made the long-term recommendation that GECOM should undertake a comprehensive finger-printing exercise for all registrants, using well-trained persons and proper ink to take ten prints of each registrant. In the short term, the EOJ recommended that duplicates on the list be investigated and corrected and procedures strengthened, including careful training of Presiding Officers to identify duplicate registrants.