…GECOM says several communities being covered thus far
HOUSE to house registration in the hinterland regions has been moving along smoothly, with registration having started in several areas including in Lethem and Annai in the Rupununi and Mabaruma and Santa Rosa in Region One, and expanding in the Moruca sub-region.
“We haven’t had any adverse reports from those areas, no challenges,” reported Public Relations Officer of GECOM, Yolanda Ward.
Ward noted that the Commission has not experienced any issues as it pertains to accessing the communities. Over 174,000 persons have been registered so far through the GECOM ongoing house-to-house registration exercise, which first began on July 20. The registration is being carried out to compile a new official list of electors, which would be needed for credible elections to be held.
In the township of Mabaruma, resident Cleveland December has already ensured that his children have been registered. He has not been registered as yet, owing to being overseas, but is looking forward to getting his name on the list before the registration period is completed.
He sees registration as vital to ensuring everyone has a chance to exercise their right to vote, particularly youths. “It started about three weeks ago, and they have registered my children. I think it’s something that is very important because a lot of youths that want to vote are anxious to be part of the process. Before it is finished I will ensure I’m there. I’m only on holiday but I will make sure I’m there to have it done,” December noted.
Registration has not yet reached the Indigenous community of White Water in the Mabaruma sub-region district, but 27 year old Diaz Domingo has been seeing the enumerators who have started registering, and he is eagerly awaiting his turn to get registered.
“It started in the Mabaruma sub-district, when we’re travelling to the town we would see them on the road coming up the road but they haven’t reached White Water as yet, but hopefully soon. Personally I feel it is the way to go to get registered, I feel good about it, I think everybody should get registered for the voters list to be updated to have credible elections,” Domingo commented.
“I know of a lot of young people in the area who are first timers to vote and being registered means you would be able to vote.”
The countrywide house-to-house exercise is in keeping with a decision of the commission on February 19, 2019 and in accordance with Order No. 25 of 2019 dated June 11, 2019. “Registration is a legal requirement according to the National Registration Act, Chapter 19:08 and therefore all eligible persons are mandated to register. House-to-House registration is a new registration exercise and therefore all eligible persons must register, even if they were previously registered,” GECOM has asserted. According to the commission, 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 OLE will be extracted for the purpose of conducting General and Regional Elections. “Guyanese citizens by birth, descent, naturalisation or registration, 14 years and older by October 31, 2019 or a citizen of a Commonwealth country living in Guyana for a period of no less than one year preceding the qualifying date, are all eligible for registration,” GECOM stated. It has urged residents to have the relevant documents required for registration ready and be on the lookout for GECOM’s registration officials in their area.
Last Friday at the commissioning of two offices in Corentyne, new chairman of the commission, Justice Claudette Singh said: “In order to vote, you must be registered.” “That is your first task; you must be registered before you exercise your constitutional right to vote.
“It is a democratic right. You are free to exercise that right to vote; you are free to exercise that right for any party and candidate of your choice,” Justice Singh said, adding: “But that very Constitution says something else: It says that in order to vote, you must be registered. So you must be registered before you exercise your constitutional right.” She also made the point that there was very good reason why GECOM has gone the extra mile to ensure that there was not just one but two offices to serve them in Central and Upper Corentyne. “We are providing the service to all persons to get registered, so, you will urge your friends, family and relatives, so they can exercise their democratic right to vote by the Constitution,” Justice Singh said. “No law can be inconsistent with it; any law inconsistent with the Constitution will be struck down by the courts. That is the Supreme Law, and we are governed by the Constitution. So you will be obeying the Constitution when you register, and when you do your voting,” she added.
Chief Elections Officer, Mr. Keith Lowenfield also seized the opportunity to remind his audience of the mission statement and the vision of GECOM. “We are constitutionally responsible for the conduct of all elections in Guyana, and our Commission is responsible for the supervision of general, regional and local elections; that is our mission,” he stressed, adding: “Our presence is to ensure that the Mission, which is enshrined in the Commission and all our offices and officers across Guyana understand fundamentally what that mission is. “We have a vision, and that is to maintain and further develop the capacity for us, as GECOM permanent staffers, to conduct credible registration. That is to say, every Tom, Dick and Harry who is a resident in Guyana must be registered in keeping with the particular Order…”