By Bibi Khatoon
Although the ongoing House-to-House registration exercise will come to an early end on August 31, Opposition nominated Commissioners of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) still believe there is a “ploy” to delay the General and Regional Elections.
Justice (ret’d) Claudette Singh on Tuesday made a decision that the registration exercise must be brought to an end on August 31.
Following a High Court challenge to registration exercise, Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George Wilshire ruled that the exercise is not unlawful and so in keeping with the ruling, the GECOM Chairman said the data garnered from that registration exercise must be merged with the existing National Register of Registrants Database (NRRDB).
The NRRD is used to create the Preliminary List of Electors (PLE).
Following Tuesday’s statutory meeting, Opposition nominated GECOM Commissioner Robeson Benn argued that the use of the data will only serve to delay the holding of elections.
“We have said that any merging or verification of the data by using House to House information is wrong, it will take a long time and it will contaminate the NRR (National Register of Registrants). It will because it will result based on 285,000 persons who have been just registered, they will appear as duplicates and having appeared as duplicates, all of those will have to be investigated,” Benn explained.
Close to 300,000 persons have been registered so far in the process which began on July 20.
The Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) had argued that the House to House registration is the only thing hindering the holding of elections which it wanted by September 18.
This demand was changed to the end of October by Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo at a recent press conference.
“I maintain that the information that is contained in the House-to-House process is unverified data and as a consequence, it should not be used but it is left to be seen what the Secretariat comes with regarding the use of that information,” Opposition nominated GECOM Commissioner, Sase Gunraj told the media Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Government nominated GECOM Commissioner, Vincent Alexander also spoke with reporters following the statutory meeting.
Alexander, who has been leaning towards the registration exercise to clean the voters list, said the decision was taken after listening to all of the arguments presented.
“What the Commission Chairman pronounces has to be seen as a decision of the Commission,” Alexander said.
However, he still believes that the decision to halt the registration exercise is not the perfect method.
The Chairman will be signing an order to change the initial October 20 date for the conclusion of the House-to-House registration exercise to August 31.
The Commission will then move to an extensive Claims and Objections Exercise (C&O) before extracting the Preliminary List of Electors (PLE).
The Commission will continue to further deliberate on other matters of importance for the holding of General and Regional Elections within the shortest possible time, GECOM said in a statement.
The Commission last weekend began training for polling day staff.