Of the 573,000 persons on the local government elections voter’s list, only 208, 534 of them turned up and cast their ballots at the polls on Monday, representing a voter turn out of just over 38%.
That’s an almost 10% decline in the voter turn out rate when compared to the figures from two years ago for the 2016 local government elections.
The Guyana Elections Commission believes that voter apathy played a major role in the low turnout, but according to the Chairman of the Commission, Justice James Patterson, the elections commission will not be taking the blame for that.
“GECOM cannot be blamed for voter apathy. We’ve done our best”, he said.
The Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield, said while GECOM did provide voter education, its mandate points to ensuring elections take place and are hosted efficiently. He said the Local Government Department and the political parties have a bigger role to play to ensure the electors are properly educated about the system and that they turn out to vote.
He said the Commission’s mandate “says that this is what you do. You conduct General and Regional and Local Government Elections. That’s our mandate. There are many other agencies that have their own mandates, that’s all I am saying. I am not shifting responsibility”.
Deputy Chief Elections Officer, Roxanne Myers reminded that GECOM’s voter education programme focuses on the technical and procedural aspect of how a voter should vote.
“When it comes to inspiration of the electorate or to treat with apathy, that is not within our remit”, she said. Ms. Myers said that should be the work of those who are aspiring to hold political office and for the Ministry that looks over local democracy.
The low voter turnout occurred across the country. In Georgetown, only 28% of the eligible voters turned up at the polls. Georgetown is the largest local authority area.