No objections filed after 1 week of GECOM’s ‘Claims & Objections’ exercise

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
File Photo: A GECOM ballot clerk desk during voting for the Joint Services for the 2020 elections

One week after the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) embarked on its Claims and Objections exercise, over 2000 transactions – none of which were objections – have been recorded.

GECOM embarked on Claims and Objections on August 22, allowing persons to, among other things, object to any dead persons that may be on the Preliminary List of Electors (PLE), from which the Official List of Electors (OLE) is gleaned.

According to statistics provided by GECOM’s Public Relations Officer Yolanda Ward to this publication, as of Monday, August 29, 2327 transactions were recorded during the ongoing exercise.

The transactions that were documented by GECOM amount to 977 new registrations of persons 18 years and older, 419 transfers, 329 changes/corrections, 517 replacements and 85 retaken photographs.

The Claims and Objections exercise will run until mid-September and is being done at all GECOM registration offices across the country. Eligible persons can make a claim to be included in the OLE.

On the other hand, persons can also make objections against the inclusion of names in the preliminary list, for reasons such as if the person is dead. All they are required to do is present the necessary documents to verify that the person is dead.

The parliamentary A Partnership for National unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Opposition has been arguing that the current voters’ list is bloated, with, among other things, the names of dead persons, and needs to be cleansed.

However, GECOM Chairman, Retired Justice Claudette Singh had posited that the list is not bloated. In fact, she had said in a recent interview with the media that, even if it were bloated, this process would allow for objections to those persons who should not be on the said list.

“Everyone on the list, the people were there. They weren’t bloated. They were legally there on the list. And if the list is bloated, well we’re moving now to Claims and Objections. People will have a chance to object to who shouldn’t be there,” the Chairperson had said.

GECOM subsequently released a statement in which they announced that Claims and Objections would start on August 22, 2022. This will be done at all GECOM permanent registration offices and will allow persons turning 18 years and over by October 31, 2022, to make a claim to be included in the voters’ list.

On the other hand, persons can also make objections against the inclusion of names in the preliminary list, for reasons such as if the person is dead. The claims section of the exercise will last until September 11, while objections will close on September 15.

“Objections against the inclusion of names in the PLE can be tendered to the Registration Officer of the Registration Area from 22nd August, 2022 to 15th September, 2022.

Objections can be made by an elector who is listed in the same Division list/Sub Division list in which the person being objected to is listed.”

The Commission had gone on to urge all eligible persons to ensure that they use this opportunity to be registered for inclusion in the Revised List of Electors (RLE) and ultimately the Official List of Electors (OLE) in order to be eligible to vote.

“Persons are also encouraged to object to the inclusion of the name of any person whom they believe should not be in the list, based on the legal provisions,” GECOM went on to state in their release.

GECOM has been working on holding Local Government Elections (LGE) by this year end. However, there is a workplan being examined by the Commission, that proposes holding it early next year.

In an interview with this publication, GECOM Commissioner Sase Gunraj had explained that the workplan was submitted by Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Vishnu Persaud, but they have not discussed it in detail yet.

“We’ve received a workplan which proposes a date next year, which we are to discuss and finalise… we have not yet interrogated the workplan and confirmed it as yet,” Gunraj explained, noting that the CEO had been asked to revise his workplan last week.

Some sources, meanwhile, indicate that the workplan proposes the holding of LGE in January 2023, as a realistic date to carry out the logistics required for elections. There is also a February 13 date that has been proposed.

LGE, which are usually due every two years, was last held in 2018. At the last LGE in November 2018, the then People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Opposition had secured 52 of the 80 Local Authority Areas (LAAs). This followed the holding of the LGE in 2016, during which the PPP/C also claimed the majority of the LAAs.