The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has confirmed voter turnout at Friday’s Local Government Elections to be below 40%.
Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield told media operatives at a press briefing on Saturday that based on the Commission’s assessment, voter turnout was recorded at 38 – 39 percent.
But those figures are being challenged by GECOM Commissioner Vincent Alexander.
Mr. Alexander urged the Commission to be careful when making such a conclusion, especially when it is being compared to the turn out at General Elections. He said universally, low voter turnout has been recorded during local elections.
According to Alexander, an assessment would also need to be made with regards to the number of eligible voters who are not resident in Guyana.
He also urged GECOM officials to do some introspection of this claim of low voter tun out. But GECOM’s Chairman, Dr. Steve Surujbally is not prepared to accept any blame in this regard, particularly when the Commission’s voter and civic education continue to criticized.
“No! GECOM will not take any blame,” Dr. Surujbally said.
He added that it was GECOM that took it upon itself to get the job done when political parties should have taken on the responsibility. The Chairman claimed that even the day before LGE, GECOM staff was out in the field educating voters.
But the Chairman’s explanation was not met with satisfaction from at least one GECOM Commissioner. According to PPP nominated Commissioner Bibi Shadick, GECOM’s voter and civic education started too late. “We wanted it to begin much earlier and for a longer period… some ads were too verbose,” she added.
In response, Dr. Surujbally said “there is no blame.” He assured that where the Commission was ailing it will be corrected, but “you can take the horse to the water, you can’t make it drink”.