September 29, 2016

Smooth voting for Disciplined Services – PPP says some voted without ID cards

…concerned that system’s integrity could be compromised
The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP) said it is deeply concerned about the level of professionalism

A GDF officer having his ID verified at the polling station on Tuesday

A GDF officer having his ID verified at the polling station on Tuesday

displayed by some members of the Disciplined Services who turned up to vote on Tuesday without their National Identification Cards.
The Party said it views the situation as very “alarming”, giving the experience of the recently concluded General and Regional Elections and the possibility of an opportunity being created to compromise the integrity of the poll on Local Government Elections day, which is March 18, 2016.
“The People’s Progressive Party/Civic has been informed by its Party agents overseeing the balloting for today’s (Tuesday) Disciplined Services members that a significant number of these electors are presenting themselves without any form of identification in order to vote,” the Party said in statement to the media Tuesday evening.
It said early reports from some stations suggest that up to half of all of those who voted showed up without their ID Cards. It said when asked to explain, the information given, in the case of Police Force members at Brickdam, was that they had been “briefed” to show up without their ID Cards.
“Additionally, while it is yet possible for an elector to vote without an ID card, on the proper administering

Officers of the Guyana Police Force checking for their names on the list

Officers of the Guyana Police Force checking for their names on the list

of an “Oath of Identity”, this process is a lengthy one and is open to abuse in the form of “voter misdirection, delay and consequent voter frustration”.
The Party noted that all that had happened after the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) expended enormous sums of money for “Voter Education” which, so far, seems to have had little impact among the “Disciplined Forces”.
“The repeat of this phenomenon indicates the urgent need for reform in the electoral legislation to allow for the presentation only of a valid National Identification Card for the purpose of voting,” the statement said.
The Party has called on GECOM to vigorously encourage and promote the requirement for the use of the ID cards so as to allow for an expeditious and transparent Local Government Elections process in 2016.

Voting process
Meanwhile, in what may turn out to be a historical event, members of the Disciplined Forces in Guyana on Tuesday paved the way for the holding of the long overdue Local Government Elections (LGE), when they casted their ballots at polling stations across the military lines.
Servicemen made their way to the polls as early as 06:00h and according to polling agents, the process was mostly smooth. Apart from a few officers who could not find their names on their bases’ Official List of Electors (OLE), there has been an overall satisfactory turnout to an election which was last held some 22 years ago.
Over at the Guyana Defence Force, the system was easy for the officers; many of whom said they would rather cast their ballots sometime later in the day. Those who had already voted said the system was very much different to what they had come to know in the General and Regional Elections. For many, it was the first time they voted in an LGE.
The same process was carried out at the Police Officers Mess, Eve Leary, Georgetown, and at the Guyana Prison Service, where officers strolled in to cast their ballots.
Some 7000 law officers were expected to cast their ballots, paving the way for the remaining Guyanese populace that is expected to go to the polls on March 18.

US Embassy observers
Meanwhile, the United States Embassy which observed the election, on Tuesday evening congratulated GECOM on what it said was the “successful conclusion of the Disciplined Services vote,” as part of the 2016 Local Government Elections.
The embassy said it was pleased to have observed the process as members of the Guyana Police Force (GPF), the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), and the Prison Service participated in the first Local Government Elections in more than 22 years.
“The Embassy team of observers found nothing to question the integrity or credibility of this critical phase of the voting process and the Guyana Elections Commission is to be commended for its logistical arrangements for this phase of the process… Embassy observers were pleased that some locations saw comparatively high-levels of overall voter turnout. However, this was not true at all polling places and, at some polling stations, turnout appeared to remain comparatively low.”
In addition, the embassy said it found that a sizable number of prospective voters in some areas arrived at the incorrect polling location or without national identification cards.
“Guyana Elections Commission procedures were wholly adequate to deal with these eventualities and the polling staff performed admirably in ensuring the integrity of the process while avoiding voter disenfranchisement.  Even so, these observations point to the need for all stakeholders to redouble voter education and mobilisation efforts in advance of the March 18 general vote. It is our observer team’s hope that civil society, media organisations, and political parties will play a key role in this regard,” the embassy said in a statement.

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