Stakeholders differ on proposals for regional divisions at elections

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Newly-proposed amendments to Guyana’s main elections law could see Regions Three, Four and Six being subdivided to facilitate easier tabulation of votes but some stakeholders believe that the hinterland regions should be divided instead.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall SC on Tuesday told a national stakeholder consultation that prior consultations resulted in newer proposals to subdivide the three regions.

Region Four will be divided into four subdivisions, while Regions Three and Six will each be divided into three subdivisions. These regions are among the most populated.

These subdivisions are meant to facilitate a more efficient tabulation of results at Guyana’s regional and general elections by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

But representative of the International Decade for People of African Descent Assembly – Guyana (IDPADA-G) Vincent Alexander, who is also a GECOM Commissioner, opined that such a division may better serve Guyana’s large hinterland regions.

“… I will argue that if one is speaking about efficiency, then that subdivisions are more pertinent in the hinterland regions (because) these regions have subdistricts that cannot move results overnight.

“It may in fact, be more efficient if they can have these subdivisions so that the results can be sub produced, instead of waiting on all of them to be produced all at once,” Alexander told the forum hosted at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre at Liliendaal, Georgetown.

Though these hinterland regions are the largest geographic regions, they are less populated.

And Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Gail Teixeira, at the same forum was keen on noting that the votes from these regions were counted and presented within 48 hours at the last Regional and General elections in March 2020.

The region with issues, she reminded the gathering, was Region Four.

The need to reform the legislation arose after the High Court had found that Clairmont Mingo, the Returning Officer who controlled the March 02, 2020 election process in Region Four, had breached the law when he failed to follow the lawful procedure to arrive at the correct vote count in the region.

His calculations, which were later presented by the Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield to GECOM for declaration, would have allowed clear fraud and provided for the installation for a government that had not won the elections.

The Attorney General also responded to Alexander’s comments, stating that it took nearly six months to tabulate the results in Region Four.

As such, he acknowledged that efficiency is a key reason behind subdividing the region but efforts are also being made to remove the tabulation and declaration responsibility from just one person as was the case with Mingo.

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