â¦as GECOM intensifies house-to-house registration exercise Just over two weeks since the house-to-house registration has started over 108 000 persons have been registered as of Friday last, official figures from the Guyana Elections Commission stated.
The success thus far comes even as GECOM has reported widespread attempts to sabotage the process with opposition activists setting dogs on enumerators and also calls by their leaders for citizens to boycott the national exercise. The commission has since requested police protection for field staff.
Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield in updating the media recently disclosed that dogs have been set loose on enumerators in the fields, while others have come into contact with persons who are of the opinion that the process is illegal, and they (the enumerators) will not be paid.
«The House-to-House Registration process continues as scheduled…but we have had some challenges and we continue to face challenges, in operationalising the event. These challenges include, for example, where persons are told to register is an illegal activity…; we have incidents where dogs are let out on our enumerators in the field; we have scenarios in which enumerators are told, that is the staff working with us, that they will not be paid, and they should not participate in the process,» Lowenfield explained.
At the time, he was speaking to reporters on the sideline of the swearing in ceremony of the newly Chairman of the Elections Commission, Justice (Ret’d) Claudette Singh, S.C, CCH. He said the contentions are erroneous, and made it clear that House-to-House Registration is legal, and all enumerators would be paid. The national registration exercised, he reminded, was budgeted for in the 2019 National Budget.
Asked whether the Secretariat would require more time, the CEO, in response, told reporters that all decisions relative to House-to-House Registration and Elections would be made by the duly constituted Elections Commission. «I don’t want to go pass the first meeting of the Commission…I don’t want to go ahead of myself…the Commission shall meet, the Commission shall deliberate and the Commission will make all the necessary decisions going forward,» he told reporters.
The Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, and his party – the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) have called on their supporters to boycott House-to-House Registration on the basis that it is illegal but Lowenfield has made it clear that the process is in keeping with a decision taken under the stewardship of former Chairman, Justice (Ret’d) James Patterson. GECOM Commissioner Vincent Alexander said the Opposition does not understand the implications of calling on persons to boycott House-to-House Registration. «I don’t think the people who are talking about moving away from House-to-House understand the processes which are involved. If we are to move away from House-to-House any other process itself would require a prep stage. And they seem not to know the time implications even if it is something else,» he told Guyana Chronicle.
Moving forward, Alexander expressed the hope that all Commissioners would uphold the standards of democratic organisations, and not stage walk outs as was the case in the recent past.
«There are standard procedures that any institution should follow and those standard procedures include engagement in the discussions, a determination which may come down to a vote and acceptance of that determination. That is what democratic process requires. People who walk out, in fact, are trying to stymie what is a democratic process by not allowing the process to proceed,» Alexander explained.
He is hoping that the Commission can get down to business as soon as the newly appointed Chair familiarises herself with the business of the Commission and its Secretariat. More than 50,000 individuals nationwide have now been registered in the house-to-house registration exercise and are now eligible to vote in the upcoming General and Regional Elections. These individuals are also now eligible to receive the new Identification (ID) Cards which will be distributed by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) by the October 20, 2019 deadline.
While the over 1,200 teams deployed still have more ground to cover, many have also begun the process of revisiting residences where persons may not have been home at the time or may not have been in possession of their documents. Upon conclusion of this exercise, a new National Register of Registrants Database (NRRDB), which is reflective of the current Guyanese population, will be created. Subsequently, the Official List of Electors (OLE) will be extracted for the purpose of conducting General and Regional Elections.