A polling place is where voters cast their votes. Such a place is supposed to have an adequate number of polling stations, security, accredited monitoring and observation personnel and polling day officials. Moreover, polling places are not supposed to be places associated with representatives, supporters and campaigners of political parties.
Sadly in Guyana, this has been the case for decades. It is no secret that these locations are insecure on a number of levels and more often than not, are prone to electoral fraud. Anyone who tells you otherwise, either is desirous of such fraud, does not understand the history of electoral fraud that took place at private residences in Guyana and/or is simply naïve and deliberately unaware.
In fact, the 2015 Final Report compiled by the Carter Centre with inputs from international observer missions among others, stated,
“On May 11, 2015, elections were conducted in 2, 229 polling stations across the country, with a maximum of 400 voters per polling station. Because of the lack of establishment of state establishments in some areas, 166 (7%) of these stations were located in private buildings and residences. While the establishment of polling stations on private property did not seem to influence public confidence in the electoral process, The Carter Center recommends that GECOM take steps in future elections to ensure that citizens can cast their ballots in a neutral environment, free from intimidation.”
I am alarmed but not surprised that known PPP campaigners, social media trolls and operatives pretending to be private sector and civil society representatives have now resorted to accusing GECOM, the Carter Centre and the various groups of international observers monitoring our elections.
Readers, like many of you, I have always questioned the rationale of using private buildings as polling places; especially houses belonging to and associated with persons who openly or secretively campaign for political parties. Why in this day and age, do we continue to use private buildings including bottom houses as we refer to them, as polling places?
Andrew Small

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