No decision on House-to-House; GECOM to begin training of election officials

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The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) did not make a decision on the controversial House-to-House registration exercise when the full Commission met on Thursday.

“We did not come to any decision,” Opposition nominated Commissioner, Bibi Shadick told the media after exiting the meeting.

Thursday’s meeting was the first hosted by Chairman of the Commission, Justice (ret’d) Claudette Singh since her appointment on July 29. It also came one day after the High Court ruled that the registration exercise is not unlawful but advised GECOM to look at other ways of verification.

According to Government nominated Commissioner, Vincent Alexander, the agency is awaiting the written ruling of the Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George-Wiltshire before a decision is made.

“The question on the way forward…was not determined…because we are not recipients of the decision of the Judge and there are those of us who would not prefer to rely on reports and third-hand information,” he told the media outside of GECOM’s High Street office.

He disclosed that upon receipt of the written ruling, a meeting will be convened to determine the way forward. It is expected that the next meeting will be before August 20.

At that meeting, the Commissioners and Chairman will also be discussing an elections plan. The Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield has since been tasked with finding suggestions which will then be discussed and sorted to form the election plan.

Government nominated Commissioner, Vincent Alexander

“We sat today and took a decision, and this was a consensual decision, that the CEO [Chief Elections Officer] will come to us with the scenarios and those scenarios will include House to House and other scenarios for the delivery of elections,” he said.

The CEO had told the media on July 23 that the voters’ list which expired on April 30 can be updated and used for the next General and Regional Elections, eliminating the need for House to House registration.

The Commission has not met since June 24 when former Chairman, Justice (ret’d) James Patterson demitted office. 

At Thursday’s meeting, the Commission was updated on the registration exercise which is used to create the National Register of Registrants, and preparations for elections.

According to Alexander, so far, over 230,000 persons have been registered in the ongoing exercise.

He still supports that House to House registration is “still the available way to clean the list.”

Alexander said a period of Claims and Objections, which was suggested by the Chief Justice in her ruling, cannot perform that function. The Chief Justice also said persons’ names cannot be struck off of the voters’ list which is created from the National register.

Meanwhile, Alexander said on August 17 GECOM will begin training of election officials from Georgetown for polling day. This weekend’s training will be done at approximately 20 centres after which it will be continued in other regions.

The Commissioner said the timeframe for the training is dependent on the availability of trainers.

According to Alexander, the Commission has also commenced the procurement of elections materials.

“Much have been done in terms of the orders for the non-essential and some essential elections material. So the orders are out there, even in some instances payments have been made and it’s a question of delivery,” he noted.

President David Granger is awaiting advice from GECOM before he proclaims a date for national elections.

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