GECOM Commissioner threatens court action to block house-to-house registration

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Opposition Commissioner nominated to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Robeson Benn is demanding that the elections body stop the ongoing house-to-house registration exercise and failure to do so will result in court action.

In a letter sent to the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield on Tuesday by Benn’s Attorney, Anil Nandlall, the Commissioner argued that GECOM’s proposal to remove persons from the voters list who are not residing in Guyana will “disenfranchise thousands of persons now qualified to vote.”

“The Constitution of Guyana does not require residency within Guyana or domicile within Guyana as a qualification to be registered or to vote,” Nandlall said in an invited comment to News Room.

“They are going to go to people’s home and de-register them if they cannot be found within Guyana,” he explained.

Anil Nandlall

Article 59 of the Constitution states: “Subject to the provisions of article 159, every person may vote at an election if he or she is of age eighteen years or upwards and is either a citizen of Guyana or a Commonwealth citizen domiciled and resident in Guyana…”

Nandlall pointed out that GECOM is, indirectly, adding a new qualifying requirement to vote, which is not provided for in the Constitution.

The move to house-to-house registration is premised on sanitizing the list of dead persons and persons who have migrated.

The Attorney argued that there are other mechanisms which can be put in place to sanitize the list.

“That can easily be accomplished by an exchange of data between the registrar of deaths and the GECOM because the registrar of deaths will be able to say how many persons have been recorded as dead,” he argued.

As such, he is demanding that GECOM refrain from “embarking on or, proceeding with” the house-to-house registration exercise.

The Chief Elections Officer was given seven days to respond. If not, the Commissioner is threatening legal action to block the commission from proceeding with the house to house exercise.

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