Last updated on Wednesday, February 19, 2020, at 6:33 am by Writer
Guyana’s Electoral Commission (GECOM) has reduced the use of private homes as polling stations for the March 2, 2020 general election, but election commissioners across the political division are debating whether this would upset voters. .
Opposition-backed People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Commissioner Sase Gunraj said GECOM’s decision to reduce the number of private homes as polling stations could cause voters to back up on of the vote. “What this has resulted in in some areas is the concentration of polling stations in one place,” Gunraj told reporters after Tuesday’s legal meeting.
In the context of concerns that people should travel long distances and make more people use the polling stations, he said election chief Keith Lowenfield has pledged to address those concerns.
Gunraj said he was not opposed to reducing the use of private residences as polling stations, but the convenience, logistics and comfort and accessibility of voters cannot be sacrificed. He noted that the number of polling stations has increased but the actual locations have been reduced.
But Vincent Alexander, the government coalition’s election commissioner, cited Sophia’s large housing settlement that uses a school gate to access the polling stations of the two educational institutions in the area. He said political parties have been fully involved in deciding which polling stations should be removed from private residences. “GECOM itself has come out to try to reduce the number of private properties. They have made these lists of polling stations available to political parties. Political parties have used their own intelligence and said “we don’t like this place because it’s a political activist who lives there …”, he said.
Alexander could not say exactly how many private residences would not be polling stations in next month’s election, but he estimated that the number of such houses has been reduced from 700 to 200.
He said GECOM would now conduct an assessment of public places to determine if they meet the minimum requirements to house voters. Alexander said that “at this stage” GECOM would not exceed 450 voters per polling station.
It is estimated that there are 2,500 polling stations across the country so that the 661,378 eligible voters can vote.