Electoral Reforms
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THE new spate of electoral reforms, which have been drafted by the Irfaan Ali Administration, is bold and futuristic since they seek to largely correct the deficiencies that give way to abuse, exploitation and absurdities in the legal framework of the system which governs elections here.

Having glanced through the proposed amendments to the People Representation Act, it becomes clear that the government is leaving no stone unturned in its quest to ensure that the atrocities that invaded the 2020 elections, after the polls closed, and up to the declaration, do not have a chance to be repeated or reoccur in that manner.

The reforms, first promised by PPP/C while in Opposition, seek to address the lacunas in the 100-year-old electoral laws by strengthening the system leading to more transparency and accountability whenever elections are held. They address key areas relating to the issues of use of statements of poll, tabulation of results, the use of manuals, and designation of the polling places, to name a few.

These hallmark reforms came in less than the prescribed time it would take to get recommendations to effectively overhaul an electoral system. Also, the scope of the reforms must have taken the best legal and political minds to ensure that there is no conflict with the laws that govern the election and the Constitution.

As Attorney-General, Anil Nandlall, explained, the reforms contained in legislation alone are not sufficient to wholly address the exploitation, absurdities, and vulgarities in the law. After all, there is a brand of politicians who look for any way or means of cheating, rigging, and frustrating the democratic process of elections, once they believe that the results will not be in their favour.

These reforms mark the start of the transitioning of the Guyana electoral system to a more modern and realistic system so that Guyanese can have a resurgence of confidence in the ballot’s ability to create and change the power constructs of society.

So, it is good that the reforms are being made available to all the opposition parties, stakeholders and Guyanese for their inputs and objections before they are taken to Parliament. This move gives the reforms a consultative and nationally accepted flavour that is good for the buy-in process before they become law.

And GECOM must have its input in the reform process which is separate and apart from other stakeholders. While doing so, it will have to start putting plans on hold for election preparation until the reforms become law. It will need to approach the area cautiously until it is ready for elections and its new Chief Executive Officer is on board.

But this reform process will likely mean that there will be no Local Government Elections held this year. This development is most unfortunate, but it is necessary if there are to be bold reforms that would affect the elections, and how irregularities are dodged in the process. Guyana stands to benefit, in a way, if the greater interest is taken first into consideration.

Lastly, the consequences are not, at all, dire, perplexing, and fatal to the local government system if elections are not held this year. Contrary to views being peddled, these local government councils will still be functional and they will still get money to do their community works and services until new councils are voted in under the new laws.

Also, the Integrity Commission and all other commissions which stand expired will be given a new lease on life when the President replenishes their functionality soon.

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