Submitted by Rickford Burke, President, Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID)
Regional political scientist and pollster, Peter Wickham, was quoted in Demerara Waves news on July 14, 2019, as saying that Guyana’s APNU+AFC coalition government should go to the polls with the current voters which was used in the 2015 when the coalition won. Evidently Peter does not have a sufficiency of knowledge and information to make an informed judgment on the legality and acceptability of the purported voters list. Thus, his pronouncements are therefore misguided in your for the following reasons.
- There is currently no lawful voters list. The list to which you and Guyana’s opposition party, the PPP, have been referring does not exist. It expired on April 30, 2019 by dint of law or legislative fiat.
- The law mandates that such voters list be complied by house to house registration of all citizens who are 18 years and over within an eligible date set out by law. The claims and objections period is not for registration. It is mandated by statute to make corrections to the list that has been compiled through house to house registration. However during this period, person who were absent from there homes during the registration process may present themselves to the designated district office to be registered.
- Elections Commission officials have acknowledged that the names of thousands of persons who have died remain on the expired list. Possibly over 100,000.
- Possibly over 15 thousand young people who turned 18 since the last elections in 2015, and are now eligible to vote, are not on the list. The National Registration Act mandates the government to register the citizens. It doesn’t place the burden on the citizen to go find the relevant office and register or loose their franchise. You should know by now that the opposition is resisting house to house registration because it wishes to suppress the youth vote which comprises 56% of the electorate. Young people will vote against the PPP en bloc
- The expired list contains the names of thousands of persons who have moved abroad and are no longer eligible to vote, unless they return to Guyana, establish residency and register. The list also contains thousands of errors in relation to persons who have relocated within Guyana or have married and changed their names.
- The aforementioned demonstrates a list that is unlawful, deeply flawed and bloated, and consequently, unacceptable for credible elections. If the Elections Commission attempts to proceed to elections with said list it will be enjoined by the court from doing so and will encounter significant rebellion from the population.
- Finally, Guyanese are the experts on our voters list and our elections. We should be allowed to make our own decisions in this regard. As a political scientist Peter would know best that one cannot make judgments on a matter without first being proficient on the relevant facts. I therefore find his comments appealingly misguided and unenlightened. I hasten to suggest that he becomes more engaged and acquire considerably more facts to make objective and informed commentary on our politics.