…slams PPP objection to merging of H2H data
…says party keen on hiding ghosts on bloated, uncleansed list
THE People’s National Congress Reform has, once again, called for a clean and inclusive list of voters and has railed against the opposition’s campaign to stop the merging of the data gathered during the house-to-house registration with those on the existing National Register of Registrants.
Speaking at the party’s weekly news conference on Friday, Director General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon, said that the PPP/C’s only interest in preserving the bloated, uncleansed and dated list is so that their managed ghosts could be more effectively hidden and thus more difficult to ferret out. “The list in this vulnerable state is prime for voter manipulation, as was reported without redress in 2006; for which a presiding officer was fired on the spot in 2011; and caused a registration officer to part company with GECOM in 2018,” Harmon a former senior officer at GECOM stated.
He added: “The PNCR maintains its call for a clean and inclusive list. The ruling of the Chief Justice that the house-to-house registration was legal was accepted by all. The use of the data will not impact negatively on the election date. It should, therefore, be used in the interest of free and fair elections, elections in which every eligible and qualified citizen is able to exercise the franchise.”
According to Harmon, all registrants have a reasonable expectation that their applications would be processed in time for their names to be included in the Official List of Electors for the elections scheduled for 2nd March 2020. “The PNCR, therefore, relies on the decisions already made by GECOM, which have been reported in the press, and the public assurances provided through its Chairperson, Justice (Retired) Claudette Singh, that all the data collected during the house-to-house registration exercise will, after having been subjected to the Commission’s well-established standard procedures, be utilised to update the existing National Register of Registrants database and consequentially the List of Electors to be used for the upcoming elections.”
Meanwhile, Harmon told the news conference that from the very inception, the PNCR through A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) supported GECOM’s intent to conduct house-to-house registration in 2019. He said in fact, the entire National Assembly, including the PPP, supported that intent by appropriating the required funds.
He said that with the passage of the No-Confidence Motion (NCM), the PPP/C reneged and called for immediate elections using the list derived from the National Register of Registrants (NRR) database consisting of data dating back to 2008. “The PNCR recognising that the PPP’s intent to use a flawed list, immediately objected, and called for house-to-house registration to cleanse the old and padded list. After the old list was retired, GECOM began the process of house-to-house registration. Thousands of Guyanese were registered in this exercise; several of them were young people who turned 18 years of age since the last elections,” Harmon stated.
However, he noted that with the passage of time, due to the various court actions, the conduct of house-to-house registration, which was embarked upon no longer remained a delaying factor in the delivery of elections, more so after it was prematurely terminated, even though the Court ruled that it was a legal and legitimate exercise.
Harmon said in the face of these new circumstances, the PPP/C still insists that the data gathered during the house-to-house exercise should not be used. “If that position prevails, it means that over sixty thousand (60,000) new registrants, who were only recorded during the house-to-house exercise, would not be committed to the database. Consequently, over 30,000 voters, those 18 years and over, will not find themselves on the voters list and those persons who changed their particulars during the house-to-house period would be listed with the old particulars.”
He asked why should the PPP/C want to disenfranchise new would-be voters? “Moreover the tens of thousands who have changed their particulars? Why dishonest Irfaan Ali and the PPP are seeking to deny the young people of Guyana the right to vote?” Harmon said the PPP/C’s attitude to the electoral roll is further manifest in their approach to the distribution of ID cards. GECOM has failed in its repeated efforts to locate several thousands of persons for the purpose of delivering ID cards.
At this time, over 17,000 ID cards remain uncollected. While those persons’ existence remain in question, the only concern of the PPP/C is that those names (representing the dead, the living or the non-existent) should remain on the list. “We must all ask ourselves why.”