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Removal of names from voters’ list illegal, unconstitutional – Jagdeo

first_img…says proposal by Govt GECOM Commissioners “a move to rig elections”Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has expressed concerns about the likelihood of rigged elections in light of a proposal by a Government-nominated Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Commissioner to strike off some 20,000 names from the voters’ list for failure to uplift their identification (ID) cards.Opposition Leader Bharrat JagdeoJagdeo, during his weekly press conference on Thursday, condemned the proposal, which was made by Government-nominated GECOM Commissioner Vincent Alexander, stating that such a move would be unconstitutional and would result in thousands of persons being disenfranchised.He told the media that the proposal was “downright illegal”.“Then imagine after the elections, when APNU loses, they are going to use the same thing that ‘oh, we took people’s names off the voters’ list because they didn’t collect their ID cards’ – that it is illegal. Therefore, they will go to court to try to invalidate the results, because of what they are proposing now to the Commission either setting the basis for elections challenge in the future or want to create violence. That is why we have to resist this proposal and I hope that the Commission doesn’t buy into this or the Chairperson,” Jagdeo said.Court rulingsHe reminded that the very Chairperson of the GECOM, Retired Justice Claudette Singh in 1997 had invalidated the results of that year’s elections in her ruling that an ID card was not required for a Guyanese to cast a vote at an election here.“She (Justice Singh) ruled against it and invalidated the results of the elections … So now, it is even worse: although you don’t need an ID card to vote, you can show up in the polling place, you can use your passport, your ID card or you can swear to an oath and vote. They want to take off and not just to cancel the ID cards which they have a right to do if they want to, but they want to take those names off the voters’ list.”Jagdeo also reminded that acting Chief Justice Roxane George recently had ruled that the names of persons on the voters’ list could not be removed for any reason outside of those outlined in Guyana’s Constitution – that is death or insanity.“Those are the two reasons; you cannot remove their names for any other reasons, not because they didn’t collect their ID cards or did not show up to check their names on the voters’ list. Whether they migrated or not, their names have to be there and that is a feature of continuous registration what we agreed to in the early 2000s. This is an attempt to disenfranchise some 20,000 people, knock their names off the voters’ list so imagine if you did not collect your ID card … but when you show up on Election Day you would not be on the voters’ list, imagine the confusion and I think that’s what they want,” Jagdeo stated.According to the Opposition Leader, the removal of persons’ names from the voters’ list would most likely result in some form of violence on Election Day when voters turn up to cast their votes and would be faced with a situation such as their names being struck off the voters’ list.On Wednesday, the People’s Progressive Party in a statement on the issue said that “…it is clear that the APNU/AFC is preparing the ground either to set aside the entire elections as illegal and unconstitutional, when they lose, or by rigging the elections by disenfranchising tens of thousands of Guyanese electors.”Earlier this week, PPP-nominated GECOM Commissioner Bibi Shadick had revealed the intention of the Government-appointed Commissioners to disenfranchise the tens of thousands who had not uplifted their ID cards as yet.“Right now the push is to let people not vote… There’s a push to deregister some people because they didn’t go and uplift their ID cards and they don’t know where they [are],” she had told reporters.Guyana Times understands that some 20,000 persons have not uplifted their ID cards since 2008. It was explained that GECOM will be putting out notices and advertisements to alert those persons to collect their IDs.But according to Shadick, there are some people who think there is no need for ID cards so they never bothered to collect them. Moreover, she noted that there are cases where persons would have moved to other parts of the country, such as the hinterland, and could not conveniently come out to uplift their ID cards.last_img

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