“The house-to-house registration is a way of finding out about persons who are deceased and will be taken off the list and new ones added,”
– Bartica businessman, Michael Dos Santos
WITH the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) this week ruling that the December 21 no-confidence motion against government was validly passed, and the country is gearing up for early elections, attention has now shifted to discussions over the need for countrywide house-to-house registration to create a new voters’ list for elections.
President David Granger has since affirmed his commitment to house-to-house registration and calling elections based on the readiness of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). The Elections Commission is currently preparing for the conduct of house-to-house registration – a process which was necessitated with the expiration of the Official List of Voters on April 30, 2019. President Granger said, at this stage, it is important for that process to be completed before General and Regional Elections are held.
“I am committed to credible elections. We are committed to house-to-house registration. The old list is invalid, it is expired, and it is corrupted,” the President noted. Maintaining that having fair, free and credible elections is of importance to his government, President Granger has long maintained that the current list of voters is outdated and corrupted. Reports indicate that there are approximately 200,000 incorrect entries on the now-expired ‘Office List of Voters’ and added to the situation, several persons who are not on the old list, would’ve since attained the age of 18 are eligible to vote.
In the township of Bartica, several residents agree.
“Once we have the house-to-house registration I would go with anything. If is elections just like that and no house-to-house to me it ain’t right. I have children who would have to vote this time who didn’t get to vote last time and if there isn’t any registration well then they can’t vote,” stressed 49-year-old Vanis Livan, a mother of 11 children.
Fifty-eight-year-old Judith David-Blair is concerned about the credibility of election with a padded voters’ list. “My concern is this: regardless of what the CCJ said the list expired in April and we cannot go to election with a padded list or a list that is not right. What the CCJ said we respect that but Guyana is a country by itself and we have to ensure our elections is run in a fair democratic transparent way,” David-Blair offered.
Reacting to the landmark ruling on Tuesday, the President said the Constitution entitles all citizens over the age of 18 the right to vote. “It is a democratic imperative that house-to-house registration be completed swiftly so we can have an election at the earliest opportunity,” he said. “The Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission, Justice (James) Patterson (ret’d), has previously informed me that the commission will be ready to hold elections in November 2019.”
The commission has already begun the training of enumerators to carry out the house-to-house registration. The CCJ is expected to make a number of consequential orders on Monday June 24, 2019 on the way forward. Barticians will be keenly following as things play out.
“Just like everybody else I’m awaiting the outcome of the 24,” conveyed Michael Dos Santos, a Bartica businessman. “House-to-house registration is always a good thing because it takes five years for an election and within five years you have a number of persons who will grow to the age of 18 years who are eligible to vote and you would always want an updated voters’ or electorate list to be there. The house-to-house registration is a way of finding out about persons who are deceased and will be taken off the list and new ones added.’
Also looking forward to house-to-house registration, Dawn McCulluch hopes that the government and the opposition will be able to work together on a way forward. “The CCJ did act in accordance with the law and the constitution and I think it’s only fair we work together to sort out the issues that is in front of us. I really think that’s what we should do,” said the mother of four.