The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has reiterated the concerns it raised recently after its observation of the just concluded Disciplined Services’ participation in the Local Government Elections (LGE) on March 8 last and has called for some legislative reform that would put an end to the malpractices.
PPP/C General Secretary Clement Rohee
The Party’s General Secretary Clement Rohee said the party repeats its alarm at the high incidence of Disciplined Services electors presenting themselves without identification to vote. He said while the detailed statistics on this “phenomenon” are being reviewed, the widespread and unusual occurrences on this nature can only serve to undermine the integrity of the polls.
Rohee said the PPP/C remains firm in its view that voting without ID cards should be a rare exception rather than a new normal situation. “Note has also been taken of the seeming failure of GECOM’s voter education efforts which has incurred enormous expenditures”, he told a news conference on Friday.
The party has therefore called on GECOM to immediately take advantage of the remaining seven days to LGE day to vigorously encourage electors to show up with their ID card. He said the party is also currently reviewing the issue, based on the experiences of past elections, to require a legislative change which allows for only a valid ID card being presented by an elector for identification for voting.
Rohee said the party has also noted the complaints and long excessive explanations by presiding officers of the sample ballot. This is said as being done where there has been no request from the elector for advice or explanation.
“We are of the view that the voter education efforts by the political stakeholders and also those of GECOM, should be more than adequate to educate the elector on how to vote. Again, only on a request being made by an elector for voting advice should explanations by the presiding officers be given”, he said
The General Secretary also raised concerns about the “inappropriate coloured symbolism at the Disciplined Services polling places. According to him, a number of unsettling symbolic colours of a political nature were observed at these polling places.
“These include green coloured tablecloths covering the poll tables at polling places at major Guyana Defence Force locations. What was notable was that the colour was not of the GDF’s camouflage or other service types, but was clearly that of the type of colour used by the main political party now at the seat of Government and which is known to have strong military links”.
He said at some locations, white tablecloths with broad green stripe were on the poll tables.
Meanwhile, Rohee also raised concerns about the alleged voter molestation and intimidation of Disciplined Service voters. He said the party received reports that senior military and police officials had “arrogated unto themselves the role of turning out the vote at practically all the DS locations used for voting”. He alleged that officers and NCOs were in possession of list of electors and had the task of actively and loudly urging the electors to join the lines to vote. He said complaints have been made and harassment and threats to voters if they did not comply with the instructions.
“The PPP/C wishes to identify these practices by senior disciplined officers as constituting a breach of the electoral laws under the rubric of voter molestation and intimidation”. He said the only lawful role for military and police “officialdom”, with respect to the DS voter and DS Election Day is to provide the opportunity to vote lawfully”, Rohee said.
Further, Rohee complained about the quality of folio pictures used. He said the party found that the quality of the pictures used was unsatisfactory.
“In many instance, it was impossible to identify a voter with certainty – particularly if that voter showed up without an ID card. The party is repeating its demand that coloured pictures be provided to all scrutineers to allow for the indisputable identification of voters.”