GECOM Moving To Prevent Possibility of Voter Fraud

Justice James Patterson

And to Educate Voters on the Importance of Voting

GEORGETOWN, Guyana – The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) says one of its priorities will be “tightening up on the slippage that would cause the elections process” to be perceived as flawed in the past.

This was stated by Chairman of the elections agency, retired Justice James Patterson, who has been at the helm of GECOM for less than six months.

Patterson, told the Department of Public Information (DPI) that there have been echoes of malpractices that “everybody has read about,” at GECOM.

According to Patterson, while there has been no evidence of this at the election agency, he is seeking to move against any possibility of this happening in the future.

He added, that the only way to do that is by “looking at the past, see what has gone wrong in the past and remedy it and to see what we can anticipate in the future and block that.” He said it is more of a “trial and error thing.”

“The human brain can always fabricate some scheme to hit at the proper running of the voting process. We have to anticipate that and block it.”

The Chairman said there are several situations that are under consideration right now as regards voting, pointing out that GECOM is not the “Chairman only”, but that he is one among seven equals. Justice Patterson said he has been taking advice from his commissioners.

Meanwhile, as the commission moves into the upcoming Local Government Election (LGE), the Chairman said most critical at this juncture, is the education and sensitisation of the public about their need to cast their ballot.

Justice Patterson said one of its priorities for LGE is voter education. Another, he said, is to convey to the voting public their obligation to vote responsibly and according to their conscience, “whatever their colour is,” he said.

“We have to sensitise the general public of their civic obligation to vote and we have to educate that same population to put Guyana before party,” he said.

The commission is currently “steep” in the tenth phase of the voter registration process. He said following the final phase of the registration, in the near future, the commission will then await word from the government on a date for the election.

“Right now, we get reports every day about registration. So, what we have been doing so far has borne fruit. So, we would not “rock the boat by changing it. I think the prognostications are, that as we get closer to voting time registration will increase.”

According to Patterson, the Commission’s public education programme has already begun, although not in a very big way. He said the programme will intensify as it gets closer to the election. “You see if you anticipate it too early people forget by the time the election comes,” he said. – CMC