No ‘credible, practical’ alternative to merger of House-to-House data – Harmon

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The Government on Friday said it fully supports the Guyana Elections Commission’s (GECOM) decision to merge data garnered from the recently completed House to House registration exercise with the existing National Register of Registrants (NRR).

This register is used to extract a preliminary list of voters.

The Government’s support for GECOM comes even as the political opposition, People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has rejected the move as time-consuming and a way to further delay general and regional elections.

But the Government is not moved by this resistance with Director-General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon saying that so far those who are opposed to the merger has failed to provide any “credible, practical and efficient alternative.”

GECOM’s Chairman Justice (Rt’d) Claudette Singh had brought the House to House registration exercise to a premature end on August 31 with promises to merge the data already garnered with the NRR.

Justice Singh has received the support of the political parties in the governing coalition but the opposition has insisted that it will result in elections being delayed for another few months.

National Elections were triggered when the Government lost a no-confidence vote in the National Assembly on December 21, 2018.

The vote was challenged in the Courts and although the ruling was initially not in the government’s favour, was taken all the way to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) where the vote was upheld.

By this time the registration exercise had already begun. Since the CCJ ruling, the new GECOM Chairman had been appointed with all parties promising speedy elections.

GECOM will soon engage in an extensive period of Claims and Objections Exercise. But in the meantime, Harmon has a slightly different interpretation of GECOM’s intentions.

His understanding is that there is not going to be a merging of the two lists but rather a cross-matching between the two.

He said at no point will the data from the house to house registration be put together with the National list of Registrants to form a final list.

With that, Harmon said it is now within the competence of GECOM to determine the time-frame in which the matter will be dealt with.

He said for those with an alternative, they can take those suggestions to GECOM for the Commission to decide while insisting that the body has the competence to make its own decision.

He said the Government respects the decision of GECOM and President David Granger now awaits word from the Commission on when he can dissolve Parliament and announce a date for elections.

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