‘Utter nonsense’ that house to house registration needed for clean list – Jagdeo
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has described as “utter nonsense” the claim by Attorney General Basil Williams that house to house registration is the sole method to have a clean voters list in order to have credible elections.
Stanley Marcus, Attorney for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) told the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Monday that that registration process will take until Christmas and that elections can be held after that.
This was a new date that surprised everyone, because the Chairman of GECOM, Justice (rt’d) James Patterson, had written President David Granger saying that house to house registration will be completed for there to be elections in late November.
The GECOM Attorney insisted that the house to house registration is needed by GECOM, but President of the Court, Justice Adrian Saunders reacted furiously in asking about the constitutional deadline of three months for elections once a No Confidence motion is passed.
“We’re not in politics.
“Our remit is to uphold this document [the Constitution] and if it is there is a clear provision, then what you want us to do? To ignore it? To reject it? To rewrite it?”
Marcus suggested that if the house to house registration is not done, then the elections could be challenged.
“The risk is that you might have an election that is not credible and we might be back before you on other grounds,” he stated.
But the Opposition Leader rejected that claim, noting that two countrywide Local Government elections were done with the list that was used for general elections in 2015 and the use of that list was not challenged.
“We can have a credible voters list in three months,” Jagdeo stated.
He said that can be achieved by updating that list through what is called a Claims and Objections period.
During the “Claims” period, it is standard for the following things to happen:
(1) a person can be registered, if they are not already registered, as a New Registrant, if he/she would be 18 years old at the date determined by GECOM;
(2) a person can make changes and corrections to the information which is on the list for him / her;
(3) a person can change their address to where they now live if when they first registered they lived somewhere else;
(4) apply for a New ID card to replace the one which was lost or misplaced;
(5) collect one’s National Identification Card if this has not been done as yet from the nearest GECOM office.
During the “Objections” period, those who are dead can be removed from the list.
This period of Claims and Objections typically takes a few weeks.
“We’ve done this before; it is not rocket science,” Jagdeo stated.
The Opposition Leader said the only reason GECOM is taking the line that there needs to be house to house registration is because of the “bullyism” of the three Commissioners of the Government who sit on the Commission and the “unilaterally appointed Chairman who sits over there.”
GECOM’s Legal Officer, Excellence Dazzell in a legal opinion dated May 13, 2019, had referred to the Election Laws (Amendment) Act 15 of 2000, section 7(1) which states that “where there is an interval of more than six months after the qualifying date…the Commissioner shall cause the official list of electors to be revised, in accordance with the procedure established by the commission by regulations.”
The subsections (a) and (b) of the clause explained that this process includes adding names of persons who may have become eligible for registration and deleting names of those who have ceased to be qualified.
“The use of the word revise suggests that the process is not one where a new list is generated but one where the most recent list is updated or amended,” she stated.
The GECOM chairman had expressed a loss of confidence in Dazzell after her advice was presented to the Commission.
“This is a very transparent attempt to delay elections beyond the constitutionally mandated period,” Jagdeo stated.