House to house registration to run from July 20 – Oct. 20

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The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is set to begin house-to-house registration on Saturday, according to an order recently published in the official gazette.

Though the order was recently posted, it was signed by former Chairman of GECOM, Justice (Rtd) James Patterson on June 11 –days before the Caribbean Court of Justice on June 18 ruled that the process by which he was unilaterally appointed in 2017 was flawed.  Patterson demitted office on June 24.

The order, cited as the National Registration (Residents) Order 2019, was made in tandem with Section 6 of the National Registration Act and comes into effect on July 20, 2019.

“Persons to whom this order applies shall in accordance with Section 6 of the Act, be registered under the process of house to house registration,” which lasts for three months and ends on October 20, 2019.

The order applies to persons who are qualified to be electors; and on the qualifying date of October 31, 2019, shall have attained the age of 14 years.

A separate order signed by the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield on June 11 was also published in which the schedule, registration district, registration officer and assistant, the registration area and their offices are listed.

The house to house registration will run from 08:00hrs to 17:30hrs from Mondays to Fridays and 09:00hrs to 15:30hrs on weekends and holidays.

The last official list of electors expired on April 30. The Government has since argued that there is a need for house-to-house registration to produce a clean and credible list of electors.

At a press conference on July 5, Volda Lawrence, Chair of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR)- the largest party in the coalition Government –argued that with a new list, the Government will see a significant win at the next National elections. 

However, the Opposition has argued that there is no need for house to house registration since a simple claims and objections period can address issues with the last list.

GECOM’s Legal Officer Excellence Dazzell also provided advice to the commission dated May 13 in which she declared that there is no need for house-to-house registration to create a new list of electors.

Instead, she said the current list which expired at the end of April should be updated by adding names of persons who may have become eligible for registration and deleting names of those who have ceased to be qualified.

GECOM was provided with over $3B to conduct the exercise in the 2019 National Budget which was presented and approved before the December 21st No-Confidence motion, which toppled the Government, necessitating early elections.

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