Only listed individuals will be allowed to vote
-Elections Commission

Stabroek News
March 18, 2001

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is maintaining its position that only persons whose names appear on the Official List of Electors (OLE) and the addendum to it will be allowed to vote at tomorrow's general and regional elections. It is maintaining this position despite the concerns expressed by the People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/Civic) and the People's National Congress Reform (PNC REFORM) about the addendum to the OLE which the commission published on Friday.

Chairman of the Commission Maj Gen Joe Singh, told reporters on Friday that the addendum included the corrections to errors in the OLE identified by his field staff, the political parties and individuals who had written to GECOM pointing out mistakes in their particulars.

He also announced that persons whose names had been omitted from the list would not be able to vote tomorrow.

Stabroek News understands that the commission agreed yesterday to adhere to its position that persons whose names were not on the OLE or the addendum would not be allowed to vote.

. . . Photographic stub not sufficient evidence

The Elections Commission is stating that the mere possession of a photographic stub is insufficient evidence that a person has registered to vote.

A press release from the commission noted that the commission yesterday "had considered the representations made by political parties for the inclusion in the official voters list of the names of those persons who are in possession of stubs purporting to establish that they were officially photographed and therefore entitled to be registered as electors ...."

The commission is of the opinion that the mere possession of a stub by an individual is insufficient to satisfy the commission that registration was effected, having regard to the fact the commission has reliable information of unauthorised and illegal activities relating to photographic stubs. In the circumstances, the commission said, it regretted that it was unable to accede to the representations made.

The newly appointed Returning Officer for Region Four, Alwyn Edwards, taking the oath of office yesterday at the Elections Commission's Office, Kingston.

Both parties have continued to forward to GECOM the names of persons omitted from the list. Dr Bheri Ramsarran, the chief scrutineer for the PPP/Civic told this newspaper that he was hoping that with the information the PPP/Civic was providing that the commission would see the need to make a policy decision about the persons left off the list.

However, he said, the addendum did include some of the names his party had sought to return to the OLE. One such name was that of a relative of former Information Minister Moses Nagamootoo, which had appeared on the Revised Voters List but had been omitted from the OLE.

Oscar Clarke, the PNC REFORM's chief scrutineer, was also disappointed that the addendum still did not include persons about whom it had made representations. Clarke said that the PNC REFORM was continuing to forward information to the commission about names which had been left off the list. He did not rule out some approach to GECOM to have it amend the position it had taken that persons not the list would be unable to vote tomorrow.

Meanwhile as the zero hour approaches, the commission swore in a new returning officer for Region Four, as the incumbent Jack Morgan was unable to continue because of illness. Chief Election Officer (CEO) (ag) Gocool Boodoo swore him in at GECOM's conference room in the DDL building, with Albert Henry, the commission's statutory officer in attendance.

Boodoo explained after the brief ceremony that Morgan had complained of being unwell and was unable to continue in his post. Morgan was injured when he went to the Mandela Avenue dumpsite following a report of new national identification cards being found there, and was injured during a melee involving the crowd that had gathered there.

Edwards, before taking on this assignment, was personal assistant to Commission Chairman Joe Singh.

He is a former officer in the Guyana Defence Force Coast Guard who retired with the rank of Lieutenant Commander.

GECOM has also established a hotline facility to answer inquiries about ID cards, names on the list and the polling station to which voters have been assigned. The number for ID card queries is 226-1255, and those for enquiries concerning the list and polling stations are 227-7705; 227-8859; 227-0880 and 225-7462.

Stabroek News understands too that the sensitive election materials have been received in all the regions save for Region Four. Completion of the delivery of the supply for this region, this newspaper was told, would be completed today.

The materials were dispatched by land and air to central locations in the regions.

The returning officers are responsible for their further distribution to the polling stations in their areas.

The facilities for the commission's media centre at the Tower Hotel were still being worked on yesterday, with phone lines being installed. GECOM's media consultant, Hugh Cholmondeley, who is in charge of the centre, told Stabroek News that computers, fax and e-mail would be available for the foreign and local media corps covering the elections.

He said too there will be a large screen on which would be projected the results of the election as they are received from the commission's command centre.

He said that the results would be updated every half hour. Also, he said that briefings by the CEO (ag) have been scheduled for Monday at 12:00pm, 7:00pm, 9:00pm, midnight and 8:00am on Tuesday morning. The numbers at the centre will be 223 5082-3 and fax is 223 5084.