Guyanese must let their voices be heard in electoral reform consultation

– says MP Datadin

Member of Parliament and Attorney at Law Sanjeev Datadin is urging Guyanese to get involved in the ongoing consultations on the draft amendments to Guyana’s Electoral Laws.

MP Datadin, during a programme on Thursday, said the legislation to reform and improve the country’s electoral laws are important to ensuring the election process is fair and transparent as possible.

Sanjeev Datadin, MP  

“Right now, there are ongoing public consultations and there are ongoing presentations around the country that relate to this issue. Everyone should participate in it, everyone should make an effort to be aware of the amendments that are proposed and you should let your voice be heard, as to what you would like to see in amendments and what you would like to see in our laws.”

Specifically referring to the National Registration (Amendment) Act 2022, Datadin explained that according to Guyana’s Constitution, one only needs to be a Guyanese to be registered to vote.

“There is no provision in the constitution that says you have to live here, there is no residency requirement.

“It is important that you understand, the constitution is supreme and like most things in the constitution, a two-thirds majority in the parliament is required before you can change it, which means that two-thirds of the members of parliament must vote in favour of that change,” the MP stated.

He noted that when parliament resumes after the present break, a constitutional reform commission will be formed which will deal with all constitutional matters unless the proposed amendments get two-thirds of the vote.

“This government is trying to do what it promised to do it will reform electoral laws, but we cannot reform electoral laws in a manner that is beyond your control, your control lies to a majority which is simple legislation, it cannot amend the constitution, the government does not have two-thirds of the house so that can’t be a situation that can be contemplated without the involvement of the other political parties, but that is what the constitutional commission is for to consider the various articles of the constitution that we would like to see amended,” the MP stated.

He said Guyana now does continuous registration, and there is no legal power that can remove a person from the list, apart from death, and only data provided by the General Registrar’s office can confirm death by the issuance of a death certificate.

He, therefore, chided the opposition for refusing to participate in the consultation process, given that it has requested a new list.

“If we took this register, we throw it away and we started again a whole fresh new register how can that be right, what about those citizens that have already registered and they have gone and gone through the process of being registered, some might not be here in Guyana but the constitution provides for that.”

He noted too that because the constitution is clear, residency cannot prevent a person from voting as long as they meet the two constitutional requirements.

“So, it is total nonsense for those in opposition to say they want a whole list to be done, why would you want a whole list to be done, why would you want to disenfranchise people, why would you want to make it difficult for people to exercise their franchise,”

The MP further noted that the same list was used for the last three elections and Local Government Elections, and questioned why the opposition wants the list to be changed now and interfere with the rights of citizens.