GECOM “tampering” with NRR – PPP

first_img…Commission denies allegationThe Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) on Wednesday said that there is tampering of the National Register of Registrants Database (NRRDB) at the Guyana Elections Commission – an allegation which GECOM Chairperson Retired Justice Claudette Singh has denied.Opposition-nominatedCommissioner Sase GunrajIn a statement on Wednesday, PPP said it was informed of adjustments being made to data on the NRR, using unverified information generated from the scrapped House-to-House Registration exercise.“This information is not only replete with errors but was never subjected to the legal requirement of a Claims and Objections process… This exercise is being conducted by Melanie Marshall, the controversial Returning Officer of Region Four, who deliberately made herself unavailable to receive the PPP’s request for a recount of votes in Region Four at the 2015 National and Regional Elections,” the Party stated.The Opposition explained that it only agreed to have the new verified registrants added to the Revised Lists of Electors (RLE) and that this “tampering” with the NRR is not only unlawful but is clearly intended to cause chaos and confusion on elections day by facilitating duplicate voting, permitting unqualified persons to vote and preventing qualified persons from voting.GECOM Chairperson, Retired Justice Claudette SinghPPP added that “This may result in violence, mayhem and public disorder on elections day. Certainly, this illicit design is intended to compromise the integrity of the electoral process and is another brazen attempt at perpetrating fraud at the upcoming National and Regional elections”.As such, the Opposition party urged the international community to pay keen attention to this situation while also calling on the GECOM Chair to immediately put an end to the illegal course of action.No tamperingHowever, on the sidelines of an event on Wednesday morning at GECOM’s head office, Justice Singh denied any attempts to tamper with the NRR or any intention to rig the upcoming polls.“No one is tampering with the NRRDB at GECOM and… GECOM does not wish to rig any elections,” she asserted.Justice Singh went on to explain that GECOM is currently merely updating the data of existing registrants on the NRR with changes that were captured during the H2H exercise. These changes include those who have had their names and/or addresses changed.“For example, persons like me who’ve changed my address since the last House-to-House. Now, my name would have appeared on the RLE with the old address but GECOM always – the policy here— they always use the latest registration transaction. So that is being done to update [the NRR]. So there is nothing with tampering, no one is tampering,” the GECOM Chair contended.Moreover, a subsequent statement from GECOM outlined that the ongoing “administrative process” being conducted at the Secretariat is to ensure that electors are placed within their correct divisions for easy voting on elections day.“Failure to conduct this necessary exercise may very well result in electors being displaced and unable to vote at a polling station in their area,” the missive stated.The RLE was published on January 4 and is available for public scrutiny for 21 days. To this end, GECOM is urging electors to check the lists at locations in their respective areas or on the Commission’s website to verify their information. In the case of inadvertence on the part of GECOM, persons are advised to visit the GECOM Registration Office in their district to have these corrected by January 25.AlarmedHowever, Opposition-nominated Commissioner Sase Gunraj pointed out in a letter to the Editor on Wednesday that the publication of the RLE is a statutory event and as such, very limited scope is available to the Commissioner of National Registration to make changes to the RLE after it is published.“This is limited to entries or omissions that are incorrect due to inadvertence. The circumstances now being relied upon can hardly be considered as inadvertence. More importantly, the widespread changes being executed by the Secretariat will not be subject to any scrutiny and these changes will only be known after the publication of the Official List of Electors (OLE). At this time, there is no opportunity for errors, either deliberate or intentional, to be corrected. It does not inspire confidence in the integrity of the process…,” he noted. Gunraj further expressed alarm at the explanation given by the GECOM Chair regarding the ongoing exercise at the Commission to update the NRR. He said that no information has been provided to the seven-member Commission regarding the process being utilised or the number of records to which changes are being made. He added too that any change to an elector’s record is a statutory process, requiring the use of statutory forms and this process has not been complied with.During Wednesday’s engagement, the GECOM Chair was asked whether the Commissioners are unaware of what is happening within the Elections Secretariat, hence the concerns of “tampering” were raised. But Justice Singh responded saying that it is “just an accusation” made by Commissioners who wanted to voice their opinions.She pointed out that some decisions taken by the seven-member Commission would not be consensual, thus, resulting in disagreements among the Commissioners from the two sides – something which Justice Singh says is “healthy”.Meanwhile, the GECOM Chair further said that a decision was taken by the Commission back in December to have the 6000+ names that were unverified during the recently concluded field exercise to be included in the RLE. This, she explained, was to ensure that no one was disenfranchised.However, Justice Singh noted that persons are allowed to object to the names on the list.“So when you hear about 6000 unverified names, it’s not a question of rigging. It’s a question of persons not being disenfranchised, and persons would have an opportunity to object to those names,” she posited.last_img

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