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Among the top priority for the 2020 National Budget is allocation of funding to conduct a national registration exercise in order to create a new Voters List. One of the major concerns about the 2020 List was how bloated it was. In a population of approximately 750,000 the List was approximately 660,000. This questionable figure is made even more incredulous when attention is paid to the fact that the population report shows approximately 180, 000 are 14 years old and younger and Guyanese are only eligible to vote from age 18.
Even the international election observers mission could not help but note how bloated the list is and recommend it be addressed. For some time now similar concerns and calls are being made by many Guyanese. The effort last year by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to sanitise the List was challenged in the High Court by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C). Acting Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire in handing down her decision on the matter in August 2019 ruled GECOM cannot remove the names of persons from the National Register of Registrants (NRR).
In said ruling, while the Chief Justice did not rule the House-to-House exercise is not unconstitutional, she ruled against the exercise given that Guyana was in an election cycle. This cycle would have been based on the Caribbean Court of Justice ruling on the 2018 No Confidence Vote.
On the residency issue the High Court ruled that residency is not a qualifying requirement to be on the List. This meant that the names of persons on the NRR and Official List of Electors cannot be removed unless deceased or become disqualified based on Article 159 of the Constitution of Guyana. Said Article deals with “Qualifications and disqualifications for electors.”
While GECOM did not challenge the High Court’s ruling it does not prevent the Opposition and Government pushing for a sanitised List in 2020 by voting in the National Assembly to scrap the current List. Where both have accused the other of rigging the election and benefitting from a bloated List neither should be hesitant to ensure this is corrected. Only a new registration exercise could achieve a credible Voters List.
To appreciate the gravity of the situation, below is a table retrieved from Mr. Stanley Ming’s facebook representing a Data Analysis of the last three elections (2011, 2015 and 2020). Dispassionate review of this report gives rise to concern about the integrity of our last three elections in so far as to whether all on the List existed and were eligible to vote.