ON February 19, 2019, the majority of commissioners of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) voted to conduct house-to-house registration as provided for in extant law, before general elections are held. GECOM is the only agency with the expertise and competency to plan and conduct elections in Guyana. Consequently, its decisions and expert advice within its purview are indispensable. The commission said Parliament had allocated $3 billion for house-to-house registration in the 2019 budget and it will proceed to execute that mandate.
GECOM also voted to advise President David Granger that elections cannot be held within the 90-day period in keeping with the controversial no-confidence vote of December 21, 2018 and the ruling of Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire. The commission said it does not have funds for elections because Parliament has not allocated funding for elections as required by law. It is unlawful for GECOM to use funds for a purpose for which it was not appropriated by Parliament.
There must be house-to-house registration before elections. The current voters’ list expires by decree of law on April 30, 2019. Over 30,000 young people attained age 18 and became eligible to vote since the last registration exercise. Although the law required that such persons be registered by house-to-house registration, Guyana’s opposition PPP has steadfastly objected to such registration to add these young people to the voters’ list.
Today, the three PPP GECOM Commissioners voted against house-to-house registration to register young people who are eligible voters. This PPP voter-suppression tactic is unpatriotic, anti-democratic and repugnant to the law. The PPP’s assault on the nation’s youth derives from polling data that indicates that young people are less likely to vote for the PPP because of its history of racism, as well as corruption and criminality which plagued the PPP regime which lost power in 2015.
We condemn the PPP’s blatant attempt to suppress the youth vote and its use of our youth as a political football. We call on the coalition government and elections commission to ensure that every eligible voter is registered and allowed to exercise his or her franchise freely and fairly and in a secure environment. CGID also calls of every eligible voter, particularly our youth, to ensure that they are registered to vote, and to exercise their franchise whenever elections are called. Our vote is the most powerful force in a democracy.
Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID)