Ahead of the 2023 Local Government Elections (LGE) and Nomination Day which is twelve days away, the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) is calling out the Guyana Elections Commission on setting the stage for low voter turnout at the elections by neglecting to launch voter education campaigns.
Even as the APNU+AFC opposition continues to raise a number of concerns relating to the Guyana Elections Commission’s preparedness for Local Government Elections, Chairman of the People’s National Congress Reform, Shurwayne Holder is now drawing attention to the absence of voter education campaigns.
He told reporters on Tuesday that the vacant position of Voter Education Manager (VEM) at GECOM at this juncture is alarming and unacceptable.
According to Holder, representatives from GECOM could not provide a definite answer to questions asked by APNU on when the position will be filled.
“There were no real answers coming from GECOM, except to say that they will go and investigate or that they will have to discuss at the level of the commission,” he said.
He underscored that GECOM cannot be undermining the efforts of political parties as they prepare for the elections.
“If you go back and check the record, you would see that there was a host of activities put forward under the subject of voter education. You would have had a number of billboards being put up with constituencies, etc, that is not the case in this situation,” he added.
The lack of voter education also arose during the 2018 Local Government Elections and while former Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield was concerned about the 32 per cent voter turnout at the elections, he said that political parties and other candidates participating in LGE should equally ensure that voters are aware of the procedures and importance of voting on elections day.
The opposition has alleged the Revised List of Electors GECOM prepared for the elections lacks the residency component which guides the electorate on where they need to cast their ballots.
They are convinced that GECOM’s failure to include details on constituencies in the list would result in the electorate being either disenfranchised or wrongfully enfranchise. To this end, Holder explained that there may be instances where people who register in a particular constituency but later relocate, return to the constituency where they once lived to vote.
It was Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira who rejected the opposition’s claim while noting that constituencies are outlined in the Official List of Electors (OLE).
The OLE is the final list that is certified to be used at the elections. It contains the names of persons who will be eligible to vote but has not been publicized by GECOM as yet.