GECOM grapples with unmatched fingerprints from House-to-House data

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Almost three months later, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) continues to grapple with the use of the data obtained during the July-August House-to-House registration exercise.

Following Tuesday’s statutory meeting, Opposition nominated GECOM Commissioner Sase Gunraj told the media that of the over 370,000 fingerprints sent for cross-matching, approximately 60,000 did not correspond with data on the National Register of Registrants (NRR).

“Based on the cross-matching information that we have received, the number of forms that did not attract a hit from the cross-matching report [adds up to] about 60, 000,” Gunraj told the media.

He said one would assume that these are new persons, however, the Commissioners were informed by the Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield that GECOM did its own investigations and found over 17,000 from the 60,000 who are already on the NRR.

The Commission has therefore agreed to contact the overseas provider to ascertain what occurred as GECOM conducts its own investigation.

The House to House registration ended on August 31 after the High Court on August 14 ruled that there are other methods of verification which should be used to create a new list of electors given the urgency to hold general and regional elections.

Elections were originally due three months after the passage of the December 21, 2018, No-Confidence Motion, however, the court also ruled that the house to house process was not illegal and therefore, Chairman of GECOM Justice retired Claudette Singh decided that the data acquired during the process will be used to formulate the Revised List of Electors (RLE).

How the information will be used still remains unclear.

With Tuesday’s revelation, Gunraj was asked if there is a possibility that elections, set for March 02, 2020, will be delayed.

He said “at this point, there has been no indication to us about the possibility of a delay. A resolution of this in a timely manner will no doubt [result] in a smooth process.”

Gunraj reaffirmed his position that the House to House data should not be used to compile the revised list of electors.

Meanwhile, Government nominated Commissioner Vincent Alexander when questioned about the controversy surrounding the cross-matching of fingerprints, said “GECOM has to work with the unique identifier which we have asked the contracting firm to do and GECOM has to do its normal process…fieldwork and that is what we should be doing.”

When questioned on the unmatched data, he said: “the question should be how many duplicates and I think they found [over] 1,600 duplicates.”

GECOM has published the names of over 19,000 persons who have not collected their Identification Cards since 2008.

So far, just over 300 of those persons have turned up to collect their ID Cards.

At a recent press conference, GECOM Chairman said the names of persons who have not uplifted their ID cards will be placed on a separate list at polling stations and they will be allowed to vote if they turn up on elections day.

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