GECOM ignores legal threat to house-to-house registration

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The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has ignored a lawyer’s letter sent by Opposition nominated Commissioner Robeson Benn, and is moving ahead with House to House registration.

Benn threatened the Commission to move to the High Court to block the process.

“The commission is getting on with house-to-house registration,” Government nominated Commissioner, Vincent Alexander told the media following the agency’s statutory meeting on Tuesday.

Benn on April 2, sent a letter to the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield demanding that the elections body stop the ongoing house-to-house registration exercise.

In the letter sent through his lawyer, Anil Nandlall, Benn threatened that he will file a court action if GECOM does not respond in seven days. That seven days ended today.

Alexander said the letter was not discussed at the meeting on Tuesday. In fact, he believes the pending court action is a waste of resources.

“It is a joke, I think we are reducing our politics to joke now,” he told reporters outside of GECOM’s High Street office.

Robeson Benn

He added that the Commission has conducted several house-to-house registration exercises in the past as he maintained that there is a need for the exercise which was provided for in the 2019 National Budget.

Benn, in his letter to the Commission, 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.”

His Lawyer, Nandlall told the News Room that the Constitution of Guyana does not require residency within Guyana or domicile within Guyana as a qualification to be registered or to vote.

However, Alexander explained that “if house-to-house is happening and someone is away from Guyana at the time, at the end of that exercise, coming onto the elections, there will be a claims and objections period and that provides an opportunity for anyone who would have come and/or return to do a claim and get onto the list.”

Three GECOM Commissioners nominated by the Opposition People’s Progressive Party again walked out of the agency’s statutory meeting Tuesday.

The Commissioners have been walking out of meetings since February refusing to participate in discussions on the contentious house-to-house registration exercise.

GECOM is set to begin the exercise in June as it is currently training persons to do so.  The commission is currently in its fifth week of training persons.

According to Alexander, the lack of consensus is affecting the procurement process at GECOM and also hampers the appointment of key personnel.

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