Budget 2024 does not cater for the implementation of biometrics to be used at places of poll, says Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira. She was at the time being grilled in the Committee of Supply on Tuesday during the consideration of the 2024 budget estimates and expenditure for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

Posing the question about the allocation was Opposition Member of Parliament, Tabitha Sarabo-Halley.

Teixeira made it clear that GECOM is an independent body and therefore, only it can make such a policy decision. She noted however, that should GECOM decide to implement such a policy, then recourse for additional funds can be made via a supplementary request.

The issue of biometrics has long been a source of contention, but rose to prominence after the March 2020 elections fiasco, which saw that electoral process being prolonged by five months due to allegations of rigging, “ghost voting” and impersonation.

Vice-President, Bharrat Jagdeo (left) and Opposition-nominated Commissioner, Vincent Alexander

Opposition-nominated Elections Commissioner, Vincent Alexander had tabled a motion at the Commission calling for the consideration of biometrics. He is adamant that such a system at places of poll could bolster the process of identifying voters.

However, during a press conference last year, the country’s Vice-President, Bharrat Jagdeo spoke out against this proposed system. According to him, such a system could prevent people from exercising their constitutional right to vote.

“We will not support the use of biometrics as a restriction on people’s right to vote,” he said, adding that the measure could become a “tactic” used to challenge elections results.

According to the Chairperson of GECOM, Justice (retired) Claudette Singh, the introduction of biometrics would require constitutional reform. Justice Singh had said that GECOM does not have the “legal parameters to do this”.


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