The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is in no position to “objectively” contribute to the process of amending the Representation of the People Act (RoPA) in the absence of an internal investigation of the 2020 elections to determine what are the manifested weaknesses of its system and operations. This was proffered today, by Opposition-appointed Commissioners, Vincent Alexander, Charles Corbin, and Desmond Trotman.
Additionally, the Commissioners noted that a mechanism to provide for the cleansing of the voters’ list has to be integral to any amendment of the electoral laws. They noted that the mere fact that there is no mechanism to ensure that a registrant who dies overseas can be removed from the voters’ list is sufficient reason to warrant such a mechanism.
Alexander, Corbin and Trotman posited that the aforementioned suggestions should be treated as “primary activities” and foundational to the review of the proposed amendments and the comments provided by the Secretariat.
The Governance and Parliamentary Affairs Ministry on November 6, last year, released draft amendments to the RoPA. Among some of the changes being proposed is the addition of life imprisonment and multimillion-dollar fines for those who flout electoral laws. The Chief Elections Officer (CEO), according to the proposed changes, can be fined $10M and imprisonment for life if he/she fails to: calculate the total number of votes on the basis of information contained in the District Tabulation Forms, as required; prepare the report with correct information.
The CEO is also liable if he/she knowingly posts an electronic copy of a statement of poll that is not a true copy of the certified copy of the statement of poll delivered to him/her, or that contains a false statement.
Further, a person who fails to deliver to the Returning Officer of District Region 4 a true certified copy of the Subdistrict Tabulation Form or who delivers the Sub-district Tabulation Form with falsified information commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of ten million dollars and imprisonment for life. Similarly, a person who delivers a Tabulation Form with falsified information commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of ten million dollars and imprisonment for life.
The circulation of the draft legislation comes on the heels of local and international clamour for a revamp of electoral laws in Guyana. Those calls were intensified during the contentious pre and post-March 2020 General and Regional Elections, which is regarded as the longest electoral process in the country’s history, spanning five months of litigation, violent protests, rigging allegations, and the alleged involvement of top electoral officers in fraud.