Jagdeo wants 12 more polling places in ECD, Region Six
A team from the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) met with the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM)) Tuesday afternoon where several demands were laid on the table, one of which included a plea for the electoral body to consider a readjustment of the latest list of polling places.
Headed by Presidential Candidate Irfaan Ali and General Secretary Bharrat Jagdeo, the PPP team demanded that GECOM reconsider the recent removal of private residences as polling places in what the party says are its stronghold communities.
Following the release of an earlier list of polling places, GECOM took a decision to later reduce the use of private residences as polling places without the knowledge of the PPP appointed GECOM Commissioners.
There are currently 2,339 polling stations selected for Monday’s general and regional elections and of that amount, 92 are at private residences as opposed to 166 at the last elections in 2015.
Jagdeo said among those communities affected are Foulis and Mon Repos on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD) along with Chesney in Region 6.
Jagdeo said it is no secret who the residents of these communities support and he believes there is a deliberate effort to ensure that the reduction of private residences to target PPP strongholds.
He said the party would be comfortable if GECOM puts in at least 12 new polling places in the identified communities.
Jagdeo even went as far as to argue that if private residences seem to be an issue then the elections body can consider the use of tents in open spaces as is being done in other areas.
Jagdeo told reporters following the meeting at GECOM’s High Street Georgetown Headquarters that GECOM seemed ready to grant the PPP’s request but was interrupted by government nominated Commissioner Vincent Alexander.
“He interrupted to say that they can’t make that decision here [at the meeting] and the Commission has promised to respond to our request later today. We are hoping that good sense will prevail,” Jagdeo told the media.
Jagdeo said GECOM Chairman Justice (rt’d) Claudette Singh said she is ready to accede to the PPP’s request once she is instructed by the Commission.
Jagdeo argued that the reduction of private residences as polling places is a disadvantage in some cases since it forces residents to travel for miles to other communities to vote. He said that the reduction will lead to congestion at certain polling places.
The PPP has said that at Mon Repos, East Coast Demerara which is reputed to have around 7,000 electors, GECOM has cut the number of polling places from ten to two, eliminating completely all private residences.
It should be noted however that while GECOM removed all private residences on the East Coast of Demerara and in some Berbice communities, it did not do the same for other areas in the country where private residences are widely being used as polling places.
GECOM had said that the reduction in the use of private residences was done following recommendations made by the Carter Center for polling places to be neutral.
But Jagdeo argued on Friday that this was never a recommendation, completely ignoring the Carter Center’s urging to ensure that polling places should be politically neutral.
When asked about this, Jagdeo wants GECOM to say what litmus test was done to ensure that the other private residences being used are “politically neutral.”