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Today in the High Court Ms. Carol Smith Joseph, Opposition Chief Scrutineer, Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), filed a Fixed Date Application (FDA) against GECOM challenging the preparation of and extraction from the List of Electors for the Local Government Elections. Smith Joseph, who is represented by attorney-at-law Mr. Roysdale Forde, SC, is contending these were not done in accordance with the Local Government law and GECOM has assumed powers unto itself that it does not have.
On November 8, 2022, the Opposition, A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) issued the following statement on the matter:-
THE 2022 PRELIMINARY VOTERS LIST DENIES ELECTORS INFORMATION ON THEIR ASSIGNED CONSTITUENCIES
“In August 2022, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) published the Preliminary List of Electors (PLE) for the next Local Government Elections (LGE). The Certificates of Commissioner, signed by Commissioner of Registration Vishnu Persaud, state that the list of persons on the list are those qualified as electors “for election to the National Assembly and Regional Democratic Councils.
“Not surprisingly, therefore, the list does not assign electors to their local constituencies for LGE. The PLE assigns electors only to divisions, with no information on constituencies. In LGEs, residency is vital to several aspects of the process. With regards to ELIGIBILITY OF VOTERS, the law requires electors to be registered and living in the constituency in which they are desirous of voting to be able to vote under both the PR and the constituency components of the election. In this regard one arrives at the conclusion that the Elections Commission is either incompetent or is preparing for General and Regional Elections rather than Local Government Elections. GECOM needs to state which elections they are preparing for and if it is Local Government they need to rectify the problem in keeping with the law.
“As regards CANDIDATES AND NOMINATORS, the law, for example, stipulates that a candidate seeking election under the First-Past-the-Post or constituency component of the Local Government Elections must be registered and living in the constituency in which he/she is seeking to be elected as a Councillor. Furthermore, the law requires lists of candidates to be supported by not less than 100 and not more than 110 registered voters residing in the specific Municipality/ Constituency to be contested.
“Clearly, GECOM must ensure that electors can easily determine to which constituency they (or other electors) belong. GECOM is also obligated to ensure that contesting parties and groups can readily determine to which constituencies electors, candidates, and nominees belong.
“The 2018 Official List of Electors (OLE) for LGE provides such information. (See attached copy). As you can see, the 2018 list describes the area of the constituency, provides the name of the LAA, and the name and number of the constituency.
“For the next LGE, GECOM has completely failed in these regards. Failure to rectify the problem places an undue burden on electors and, worse, will deny most of them the information they need to make claims and objections, and to vote. GECOM must discharge its obligation to provide the “voter with the knowledge and requisite information needed to effectively and meaningfully participate in LGEs. While we have not made a decision on participation, we are concerned that the law and established protocols are not being followed.
“The 2022 PLE is manifestly unfit for this purpose. It is not only bloated, but it also violates the constitutional rights of electors. It undermines the integrity of the election. It is a recipe for disaster. GECOM must get its act together.”
More on this story later.