Merger of House-to-House data will delay elections for another three months, says Opposition Leader

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The Guyana Elections Commission’s (GECOM) plan to merge the data collected during the month long House-to-House registration exercise with the existing National Register of Registrants (NRR) will result in elections being delayed for another three months, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo told a news conference Thursday at his Church Street, Georgetown office.

Chairman of GECOM Justice (Rt’d) Claudette Singh on Tuesday decided to end the ongoing House-to-House registration on August 31 to prepare for general and regional elections following the passage of the No-Confidence motion on December 21, 2018.

The Elections Commission also announced that based on the ruling of the Chief Justice on August 14, 2019 that House to House Registration is not unlawful and is constitutional, the data garnered from that registration exercise must be merged with the existing NRR database.

The NRR is used to extract a voters list to be used during the general elections.

While GECOM plans to launch an “extensive” Claims and Objections exercise to sanitize the voters list, Mr Jagdeo believes that the merger is another delaying tactic by GECOM.

He said the unverified data from the House-to-House will be merged with the verified data of the NRR.

“I’ve seen their latest work programme and with this merger, the most optimistic scenario is to go to Claims and Objections in November because the merger will take about three months and then elections on 27th April next year.

“So you understand that this merger will not improve the database, it is a delaying tactic once again,” the Opposition Leader said.

He said the People’s Progressive Party is opposed to the length of time it will take to sort through the new data.

“In sorting this now, it will take ages and that is what we’re opposed to. We’re opposed to the timeline it will take to do this when there is a simple way of ensuring that everyone gets on the voters list.”

Mr Jagdeo explained what he described is a simpler way of adding new voters to the list of electors.

“If you don’t merge the data, you have a simpler way of capturing these people. By getting the 2000 of the 285,000 who have registered…the new ones to just go back and register.

“You call Claims and Objections, you extract the preliminary voters list from the existing NRR, you open 20 offices – even double the offices – and every new person can be registered and get on the list.”

According to Mr Jagdeo, the data collected from the House-to-House registration might also be illegal, noting that enumerators used a different form than what is required by law and which did not receive the approval of the Commission or Parliament.

The Opposition Leader has been pressuring President David Granger to name a date for general and regional elections following the ruling by the Caribbean Court of Justice that December 21, 2018 motion is valid.

The CCJ in its consequential orders urged the President, the National Assembly GECOM to abide by the letter and spirit of the clear constitutional provisions of a No Confidence vote – that elections should be held in three months.

In the meantime, the Court noted that the Constitution envisages that the Government continues as a caretaker or interim Government until elections are held and a new President is appointed. As such, the court said the Government is expected to behave as a caretaker.

While the Court stayed away from giving orders dictating the date by which elections should be held, it suggested that the provisions of the constitution set that timeline.

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