– maintains house-to-house registration reeks of desperationThe Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has once again rejected calls for house-to-house verification, which came from the governing A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC), saying that it is a desperate attempt to delay or postpone the constitutionally due 2020 general elections.General Secretary of the PPP Bharrat Jagdeo has expressed fear that enumerators at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) would deliberately not go into PPP strongholds specifically in hinterland and riverain areas and deny them the right to vote.“We believe that doing house-to-house registration at this late stage within the constitutional deadline for holding general elections could be used as a pretext forOpposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeodelaying the elections,” Jagdeo said recently.Jagdeo’s comment comes in light of the GECOM presenting a request to the Finance Ministry for funding of a national house-to-house registration exercise for a new voters’ list as part of its preparation for the 2020 general elections.Chief Election Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield told a recent press conference that GECOM gave approval for the Secretariat budgeting to provide for the conduct this exercise. While the CEO was reluctant to provide a cost, it was later revealed that it will cost $3 billion.“I am surprised that the Chief Election Officer has made a request for funding for an initiative that has not been decided at the level of the commission,” he said.The party’s General Secretary pointed out that after the 2015 General and Regional Elections, the PPP had requested for Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to undertake house-to house registration, but that request was completely ignored.He recalled that in 1990 a house-to-house registration was conducted and it was used to delay the elections to 1992. Jagdeo also recalled that the list very flawed.Although GECOM has made a commitment to having the house-to-house registration completed in six months, Jagdeo said, he is doubtful that it could be completed in such a short time. “It is opening the door for a process that is potentially fraudulent,” he stated.FlawedJagdeo, a former president, also raised concerns over the current framework within which GECOM operates. He said he is fearful about the inputting of data and that the final list of voters being flawed, especially given the concerns they already have with GECOM.The last house-to-house registration was conducted in 2008. The list has since been updated through continuous registration cycles conducted by GECOM.In April 2018, the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) called for house-to-house registration to clean up the voters’ list. PNCR General Secretary Amna Ally had suggested that a registration should begin as soon as possible.The PPP said it did not support the PNCR’s call for new house-to-house registration, while stating that it preferred to contest the general elections with the existing voters’ list.However, the party has in the past expressed some level of satisfaction over the fact that GECOM update and sanitise the list of registered electors.One of the tasks undertaken by GECOM and stakeholders is to cleanse the list of deceased persons, based upon information generated by the General Registrar’s Office (GRO), which is responsible for the issuance of certificates of death.This is something the Party has repeatedly called for. During that same month, the PPP called for GECOM to exercise greater care and due diligence in sanitizing the list.Only on the basis of a certified list of persons who have died, issued by the General Register Office (GRO), can GECOM remove a person’s name.The Party therefore noted that GECOM issued five lists of persons who have died between December 2015 and March 2016. One of the lists, according to them, is of persons who have died but whose names are not on the list of registered electors.The PPP said it had conducted a review of this particular list and has discovered a significant number of names which are in fact on the list of registered electors.In March, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo called for an audit to be done on the digitisation of records at the GRO. His comments were followed by Citizenship Minister Winston Felix, who claimed that the process is transparent and nonpartisan.