PNC/R wants GECOM database scrapped
by Shirwin Campbell
November 14, 2003
Leader of the People's National Congress / Reform (PNC/R), (center) is flanked by two Executive members of the Party (left) Mr. James McAllister and (right) Ms. Clarissa Riehl.
The People's National Congress Reform (PNC/R) is calling for the immediate scrapping of Guyana Elections Commission's (GECOM) current database, declaring that it has no confidence in the integrity of the database.
Leader of the Opposition Robert Corbin informed members of the media during PNC/R's weekly press briefing, "The party believes that GECOM's stated intention to move to continuous registration (for which the current data base is totally incompatible) provides as an additional rational to dump the current database and embark on a new national registration process in time for the 2006 election"
Mr. Corbin who presented some background information to justify the call, stated, "In May this year, at the invitation of GECOM, the PNCR along with other stakeholders for the opening of the two GECOM databases that were used at the 2001 election and which were reportedly frozen after the IDEA audit of June 2001."
He added that GECOM ran tests to determine the integrity and the results were made available in the form of Compact Discs.
Mr. Corbin noted that PNC/R enlisted a team of its own experts to run independent checks on the results and detected several abnormalities regarding the security and integrity of the database.
According to Mr. Corbin, "In the letter to GECOM dated 15 July 2003, the party outlined these concerns. These concerns emanated from evidence that strongly suggested that (i) attempts were made to gain unauthorized access to the GECOM database; (ii) that some attempts have been successful; (iii) that the computer and administrative audit trial that could have been used to conclusively determine these issues was not with the known and standard practices in such highly sensitive operations ; and (iv) serious security flaws existed in the system."
He added that in response to this correspondence early October GECOM imported into the country a Data Base and IT Forensic expert to investigate the issues raised.
That expert Mr. Corbin stated had been a member of IDEA team that did an audit and systems review of the 2001 election process in Guyana.
The expert, Mr. Roy Vedove had reported that despite the various security holes and vulnerabilities (in both the electronic and physical and administrative aspects of the IT operations) he holds to the position that the GECOM database was not compromised.
PNCR said it is calling for the scrapping of database after careful study of Mr. Vedove's report as well as the IDEA audit report of 2001, and in consultations with their own experts and given the highly porous nature of the electronic and physical security measures in place to protect the integrity of the voter registration database.