Letters and news reports point to new house to house registration list, in addition to the normal list, and on the removal of names on list of those who did not access their ID cards . From my own reading of the relevant laws (Acts) and after speaking with legal luminaries (including former judges) on said laws pertaining to continuous registration of Guyanese (ROG) and Commonwealth citizens, Preliminary list of electors (PLE), Revised List of Electors (RLE), and Official List of Electors (OLE), the inescapable conclusion is that Gecom is in violation of the laws. Gecom is putting itself to be challenged in court in removing people from a list of electors (as so eloquently argued by Vishnu Persaud) on the PLE and in having a second list (that is being scrutinized) in addition to the PLE.
Every lawyer I spoke with said Gecom is in violation of the laws pertaining to the above lists. The law says there can only be one PLE. But there are two lists being circulated – an official PLE and a House to House registration list (HtHrl) that was conducted in August when it was abruptly terminated by the newly appointed Chair leaving out some 400K people, more than half the population. Since there is a PLE, what is the purpose of the HtHrl? What will the latter be used for since the law does not cater for it? My own investigation of samples of names on HtHrl done at random at varied locations revealed duplicates and names at addresses where homeowners said no such persons lived there. Even neighbors are unfamiliar with the names – incorrect addresses or non-existent or wrong locations. In addition, I found that people living in legitimate addresses are not on the HtHrl. It is difficult to tell how inaccurate or flawed is the HtHrl. We know over 60% of Guyanese are not on the HtHrl. It also seems, based on my preliminary assessment, that an estimated 10% (probably higher) of the names on it can’t be verified. Clearly, the latter is problematic. Gecom should do a random sampling of verification of addresses on the list. Or failing that, the parties should be funded to carry out a verification process (over a fixed period – there is still a lot of time to prepare a OLE) as was done with the claims and objections.The HtHrl is itself illegal since it was not a completed process. The way election law is structured is: registration of Guyanese (and Commonwealth citizens) or preparation of a national list from which a PLE (extracted from the national registrar) is derived. The law does not cater for an incomplete HtHrl. The PLE is either a HtHrl or extracted from a national list or the list from the previous election is used as a basis of a PLE. There are claims and objections that lead to a RLE and (after review) from it is derived the OLE for an election.
Gecom is headed by a former Chief Justice (Madame Claudette Singh) and has at least three lawyers, a computer science academic, a former MP and a party executive. Are they in agreement that they are breaking the law and that their action can be the subject of a court challenge that undoubtedly will succeed at the CCJ if not in Guyana? Have they consulted with scholars on the law to be sure they are not in violation? Madame Claudette Singh should point to the relevant sections of law that allows for an incomplete HtHrl and its relevance in light of very distinct law on PLE. Is the HtHrl list going to be merged with the PLE? If so, when? Will there be time for claims and objections of this new PLE that could be the subject of a court challenge since it will be an amended PLE of which the law does not cater?
It is also noted that Gecom is deeply divided on almost every single matter pertaining to the varied lists noted above. The Chair, Ret’d Madame Justice Claudette Singh frequently had to break a tie in partisan voting; she voted consistently with the government half of the commission. There is deep lack of trust on both sides. People of repute and non-partisans I spoke with say that such a polarized body does not give much confidence in Gecom to hold credible elections. Madame Justice Singh needs to rise above partisanship and take independent objective positions not in violation of basic laws. She needs to bring all members of Gecom on a unison position on issues pertaining to the PLE, RLE, and OLE.Some bold non-partisan action needs to be taken by Madame Chair Singh to instill faith and confidence in her body especially in addressing questions raised on the HtHrl and on the removal of names of people who have not picked up their ID cards.