We must check the list, youth must vote

─ supporters call for house-to-house registration

─ protest is part of efforts to protect the democratic process and the right of every individual to vote

DPI, Guyana, Thursday, February 7, 2019

Almost 300 persons gathered on High and Lamaha Streets on Thursday to stage a picketing exercise demanding house-to-house registration before the next General and Regional elections. Among the protesters were a number of youths who were concerned about not being eligible to vote due to their names not being on the current list of electors.

Minister within the Ministry of Natural Resources, Simona Broomes, who was part of the picketing exercise, said she is a big supporter of the youth. She reiterated that it is unfair to let the young people of Guyana be stripped of their constitutional rights by not allowing for them to become part of the official list of electors through the process of house-to-house registration.

“When we call for the verification of the list is not to delay any election, we are ready for elections, the PPP cannot win us in an election, but we are saying transparency. Everybody’s vote must count. The young people have to vote, they have a right,” Minister Broomes declared.

The minister said that there are many deceased persons on the list and it is important to hold house-to-house registration not only to remove those names but to allow for youth who have come of age to be added to the list.

Among the protesters were several young people who are demanding that they be allowed to register and given the opportunity to vote. Grace George said she lost her Identification Card and applied to GECOM on several occasions for a replacement but so far, has been unsuccessful. However, the young lady said she will be determined to be on the electoral list to make sure that her vote counts.

“We are the youths of Guyana and we are the future. We must be given the opportunity to vote, it’s our choice and our constitutional right to cast our vote,” George said.

Meanwhile amidst chants of “The youth must vote” Director of Sport, Christopher Jones said the protest action was to signal to the Guyana Elections Commission the Government’s support for house-to-house registration before elections.

“Essentially, we are here to signal to the Guyana Elections Commission that we as the young people of this country agree that if their timeline is July, then we have to accept that. More importantly, April 30 of this year, a few weeks from now the current list is exhausted, and therefore, new house-to-house registration has to be had. To do that, it provides an opportunity for 28,000 to 30,000 young people who are not otherwise on the current list to have an opportunity to register,” Jones said.

He added that the protest is part of efforts to protect the democratic process and the right of every individual to vote.

“The PPP claims that it believes in democracy. The right to vote is democratic and it exposes their hypocrisy because on, one hand, you are saying that you have their interest at heart yet at the same time you are taking away that basic right from the young people of this country, which is the right to vote.”

Following the December 21 Vote and the ruling of Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has been called upon to host elections before they are constitutionally due in 2020. However, concerned groups and citizens have called on the commission to conduct house-to-house registration and clean the Voters’ List, which is currently bloated with more than 80 per cent of the Guyanese population listed as eligible to vote. This is being objected to by PPP Commissioners Sase Gunraj, Bibi Shaddick and Robeson Benn.

According to Jones, there will be further sensitisation throughout the length and breadth of Guyana to ensure that youths get accurate information and get registered to vote whenever the next elections are called.

Ayana George and Kidackie Amsterdam.

Images: Adrian Persaud.