The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has not abolished the use of private residences as polling stations for the March 2 Regional and General Elections, Commissioners said this afternoon. This contradicts what Opposition member Anil Nandlall claims.
On his Facebook page, the former Attorney General said that GECOM took a decision to only use public buildings as polling stations. He even suggested that the decision be reviewed, saying that it will cause “confusion, chaos, tremendous hardship and inconvenience on polling day, because some communities which have thousands of voters, only have one or two public buildings, while others, have many public buildings.”
But Commissioner, this afternoon clarified that the decision was taken to reduce the number of private residences and not the elimination of the arrangement.
Opposition-nominated Commissioner, Sase Gunraj said: “Private residences are still being used. We have not been able to eliminate it totally.”
Gunraj, however, agreed that there is a cause for concern with regards to accessibility.
He theorised that with an average of 400 voters per polling station and 10 polling stations located in one polling place, there will be 4,000 persons utilising one location. He admitted that there are instances where there will be more than 10 stations.
He said that while he does not have an issue with the reduction of private residences as polling stations, the Commission’s hands are tied.
“Private residences are still being used. We have not been able to eliminate it totally. What I am saying is that the use of private residences ought not to be eliminated totally if a proper alternative is not available,” he said.
Gunraj said that the Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield, has been briefed on the matter, and has given his assurance that he will resolve the issue in a timely manner.
Meanwhile, government-nominated Commissioner, Vincent Alexander, said that Nandlall’s utterance was “mischievous”. He, too, confirmed that the decision was about reducing the number of private residences.
He noted that the reduction came from the recommendations of the political parties that were provided with a list of the polling stations. The private residences were removed after parties would have raised concerns about the individuals living at those venues being aligned to political parties.