Most undistributed ID cards were for Region Four
October 1, 1998
Forty-four per cent of the voter identification cards not distributed by the Elections Commission were produced for persons registered in the Demerara/Mahaica electoral district, according to statistician Haslyn Parris.
And he reiterated his contention, that based on his analysis of the distribution of the voter identification cards as reported by the Elections Commission, the distribution process was biased.
Parris was testifying for the third successive day on behalf of Esther Perreira who is challenging the validity of the December 15, election by a petition she brought against the Chief Election Officer and others. He was still in the box when the hearing was adjourned to this morning.
Under cross-examination by Rex McKay SC, counsel for Desmond Hoyte, leader of the PNC, when the hearing resumed before Justice Claudette Singh yesterday afternoon, Parris said that reports prepared by the Elections Commission showed that 459,712 voter identification cards had been produced for the 461,415 persons on the electoral roll. Hoyte is one of twelve respondents named in the petition.
Parris said that of the 459,712 cards that were produced, 28,703 had not been distributed by the Commission and, of this number, 12, 850 were for persons registered in the Demerara/Mahaica region (Region 4).
He said too, that while the average percentage of cards distributed in the ten regions was 91.84 per cent, in four regions - Pomeroon/Supenaam (Region 2), Essequibo Islands/West Demerara (Region 3), Mahaica/Berbice (Region 5) and East Berbice/Corentyne (Region 6) - the average percentage distribution was 93.67 per cent.
In the other six regions, he said that the average percentage was 90.42 per cent. Those regions were Barima/Waini (Region 1), Demerara/Mahaica (Region 4), Cuyuni/Mazaruni (Region 7), Potaro/Siparuni (Region 8), Upper Takatu/Upper Essequibo (Region 9) and Upper Demerara/Upper Berbice (Region 10).
Asked about the impact of this differential distribution, Parris said that Guyana's electoral system requires all persons to have the same chance of voting. However, based on the distribution of the voter identification cards, a person registered to vote in one of the four regions where the distribution of the cards was highest, would have a 93.67 chance of doing so while in the other six regions they would have a 90.42 chance of doing so.
Parris said too, that in an electorate of 461,000, a one per cent difference was equivalent to 4,610 votes and a three per cent differential would be 13,830 votes.
He pointed out also that if a comparison was made between the regions, the differential would be at its worse if the comparison were to be made between Region 8 (Potaro/Siparuni) and Region 5 where there was a 15 per cent difference which would translate to 69,150 votes.
Another observation made by Parris was that in looking at the two groups, one of which was consistently below the average percentage of the group and the other consistently above that average, the only correlation he could find, was the voting patterns at the 1992 elections.
In the 1992 election, Regions 2, 3, 5 and 6 were won by the PPP/Civic and Regions 1, 4, 7, 8, 9 and 10 were won by the PNC, according to Parris.
Explaining at McKay's request the election theory in which there was a formula to calculate the degree of accuracy required in the process to enable any party to determine the number of votes it would need to obtain so as to have the maximum opportunity of gaining a seat in the National Assembly, Parris provided excerpts from "Electoral Systems and Party Systems: A study of 27 Democracies from 1945 - 1990" by Arend Lijphart. Lijphart, according to Parris, was assisted in his study by 28 other experts in that field.
He also explained the theory of the largest remainder quota as used in Guyana's electoral system in determining the allocation of seats.
When the hearing resumes today, Parris will be re-examined by Doodnauth Singh SC, Counsel for the Chief Election Officer if none of the other respondents wish to cross-examine Parris. He has been given leave by the Court to do so. The hearing was adjourned yesterday to give the Counsel for the other respondents, not present in the Court yesterday, the opportunity of declining to cross-examine Parris. Peter Britton SC, counsel for Perreira, is expected to seek leave of the Court to apply for an order to access the statements of poll. He had indicated on Tuesday that he would have done so yesterday.