The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) yesterday responded to complaints by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) that the reduction of private polling stations for the March 2 General and Regional Elections could disenfranchise voters.

GECOM Chair, Justice Claudette Singh

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In a recent statement, the Opposition party had stated, “We consider this latest development as yet another attempt by GECOM to frustrate voters, suppress and hinder voting and create possible confusion on Elections Day.”
Chair of GECOM, Justice Claudette Singh, told media operatives during the joint services voting process yesterday that the reduction was prompted by the Carter Center, whose representatives had questioned the use of private polling stations.
Singh explained that the private polling stations have been reduced because they’ve been substituted by public buildings.
“It’s not that the polling stations are removed in the area. It’s just the private residences; they’re moving away from those,” the Chair said.

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GECOM CEO, Keith Lowenfield

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“Why would you use private residences when you have a public place?” she asked.
The private polling stations being used dropped from 166 in the 2015 elections to 92 for the 2020 elections.
GECOM Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield, said that in the cases where private stations were kept, it was unavoidable.
“There is absolutely no public or other building that could have been used in these instances and therefore we had no choice. The residents of those particular divisions, sub-divisions have to vote,” Lowenfield told reporters.
Leader of the governing Coalition, President David Granger, told reporters who approached him yesterday that there have been numerous abuses in the past when private, sometimes obscure residences were used because some of them were owned by “political advocates”.
The President agreed with the Commission’s decision to reduce the use of private polling stations, “in its wisdom”, but noted that the Commission’s decision was just that – a decision of the Commission.
Hence, he posited that any complaints about the matter should be addressed to the Chairman.
GECOM has proposed the use of 2,339 polling stations for the upcoming elections, up from 2,299 in 2015.
The PPP’s biggest contention was that the reduction in the use of private polling stations may be used discriminatorily, “since there are many private residences being used in Georgetown and along the East Bank of Demerara as polling stations.”
GECOM has committed to examining the Opposition’s complaints.

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