Expired voter’s list can be updated and used for elections

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Keith Lowenfield, the country’s Chief Elections Officer has agreed that the last Voter’s List, which expired on April 30, 2019, can be updated and used to hold new general elections.

“That’s correct, always has and always will,” Lowenfield told reporters on Tuesday at the High Court, when asked whether the list, if refreshed, can be used to hold free and fair elections.

Lowenfield’s statement is in harmony with what he said on February 8, namely that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) needs just 148 days to run off general and regional elections.

At the time, he said 148-day timeline hangs on a scenario of a 21-day Claims and Objections period to sanitise the current list of voters – to add new persons and to delete those who are dead.

On Tuesday, he explained that the old list can be used as the Preliminary List of Elections as the basis for the short Claims and Objections exercise.

His comment is in harmony with arguments put forward by the Opposition, which has claimed that the Government’s push for House to House registration is a ploy to delay elections.

While the Opposition has argued that the list can be updated, the Government is pushing for House to House registration on the basis that the list is bloated with deceased persons and some who would have migrated.

However, when questioned, Lowenfield said “bloat” is not a word he would affix to the voter’s list which was used last November for Local Government elections.

President David Granger had said there are 200,000 names on the last list of electors which needs to be removed as those persons are either dead or not residing in Guyana.

However, the Chief Elections Officer said he has never provided such information to anyone, including the President.

“I have not engaged his Excellency…It is speculated on how much persons,” he told the media.

GECOM on Saturday began the House to House registration exercise and the CEO said the exercise has been progressing to the Commission’s satisfaction.

While GECOM has planned for the exercise to run until October 20, Lowenfield noted that the agency has increased the number of officers so that the process can be completed quickly.

Other questions regarding the list, he said, he prefers to leave to the new Chair of GECOM.

The President and Opposition Leader are engaged in a process to select the new Chair.

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