GECOM discusses removing 20,000 names from national register

The seven-member Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is discussing the possibility of removing the names of at least 20,000 persons from the National Register of Registrants (NRR) because they have not uplifted their national identification (ID) cards over the years, and also ticking off the names of thousands of others who were previously registered as part of a heightened vigilance.

However, the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) says if the commission by a majority vote decides to go ahead with doing so, the matter is likely to go to court. “Right now, the push is to let people not vote,” election commissioner, Bibi Shadick said in reference to two proposals that were floated by pro-governing coalition election commissioner, Charles Corbin.

Another pro-PPP elections commissioner, Robeson Benn did not rule out court action even if it possibly risks a further delay in the holding of general elections beyond March 2, 2020. “Of course, it has to be challenged in the court which would result in the removal of a valid registrant and the prevention of a person from the ability to go and vote, it should be challenged,” Benn told reporters.

However pro-coalition election commissioner, Vincent Alexander rejects suggestions that the removal of the names of persons from the NRR merely because they have not collected their national ID cards will potentially disenfranchise persons. He says rather the use of uncollected ID cards would be a method to object and remove the names of persons from the NRR once repeated efforts have been made to locate them.

Recently, GECOM was forced to withdraw an order that had required registered persons to turn up at offices countrywide with their registration records to prove their existence. That order was replaced with the customary claims and objections period.