Head of the Private Sector Commission’s (PSC) Observer Mission, Captain Gerald Gouveia has bemoaned the poor voter turnout at Friday’s Local Government Elections (LGE).
Gouveia in an interview with Guyana Times said one difficulty voters complained about was the fact that there was no one at the bottom of the ballot papers for them to vote for, but it simply meant that there were no individual contestants.
“The turnout was very, very low. That is what we getting across the country,” Gouveia said.
Asked what in his view may have been responsible for this poor turnout, Gouveia said poor efforts on the part of candidates in mobilising their supporters to go out and vote.
“I think the candidates did a very poor job. I think in my view GECOM (Guyana Elections Commission) did a lot of work to enhance public knowledge and public education. I don’t think the public paid a lot of attention and I don’t think that political parties and candidates really did the amount of work to mobilise their supporters to go to the polls so I put a lot of it in the laps of the candidates and political parties,” Gouveia said.
Gouveia ruled out a public holiday as one of the factors responsible for the low turnout, noting that employees were allowed to cast their ballot, despite having to work.
“People were giving their staff time off to go and vote if they wanted to. I don’t think a public holiday was necessary and I don’t think it would have made difference,” he posited.
GECOM Chairman Dr Steve Surujbally was quoted in sections of the media, sharing similar sentiments as Gouveia, noting that it was not an obligation of GECOM, but political parties, organisations and candidates to mobilize their supporters to get out and vote.
“Those who want to be elected should have gone and canvassed to their supporters and their people,” he was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile the PSC official noted that voting went smooth throughout the day, save for a few minor glitches which were readily ironed out.
“It was incident-free in a general sense; we have had no major reported anomalies or issues. We have had two incidents reported by the PPP (People’s Progressive Party) and when we investigated it, we were told that it was resolved in a satisfactory way to the PPP,” he stated.
Gouveia was in high praise for the GECOM Staff who he said displayed a high level of professionalism throughout the process, noting that some 507,633 persons were registered to vote in the 71 Local Authority Areas, but based on reports from across the country, voter turnout was below 50 per cent.