Local Government Elections possible next year- Chief Elections Officer

Chief Elections Officer of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Mr. Vishnu Persaud on Tuesday noted that Local Government Elections (LGE) can be conducted in 2022.

“One year’s time is more than enough to prepare for and hold Local Government Elections,” Persaud said moments after taking his Oath of office.

LGE for the appointment of leaders for municipalities and Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) was constitutionally due this year but were postponed due to what Minister of Local Government and Regional Development Nigel Dharamlall said was the lack of readiness of the electoral body.

Asked about the need for a new National Register of Registrants, Mr. Persaud said his advice to the Commission will be in accordance with the Laws of Guyana.

“As it is now, there seem to be some conflict between laws pertaining to the conduct of house to house registration and continuous registration so that is something I would have to look at more in-depth before I can advise the Commission,” he noted.

The last house-to-house registration in 2019 was cut short by Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Justice (Rt’d) Claudette Singh. This decision came after a no-confidence motion was passed in the National Assembly against the former Government necessitating early elections. GECOM then announced that the data garnered from the registration process will be merged with the existing National Register of Registrants database and embarked on an extensive Claims and Objections exercise before preparing the Preliminary List of Electors.

Local Elections are held in Guyana using a Mixed Electoral System of Proportional Representation and First-Past-the-Post. Fifty percent or half of the number of councilors of each Local Authority Area will be elected through the Proportional Representation component and the other fifty percent through the First-Past-the-Post or Constituency component.

Earlier this year, GECOM was allocated some $1.1 billion for the holding of LGE. Of that amount, $237.7 million was set aside for the printing of 500,000 ballots and other publications and $285.7 million for voter education and other programmes.

Some $135.7 million has also been set aside for the training of 8,500 elections day staff. Another $81.6 million will be for the rental of buildings for staff, voters and the public along with other activities relating to elections. Meanwhile, $75.6 million has been set aside for meals and subsistence for staff at the 1,700 polling stations.
Money has also been allocated for the mailing of identification cards still not uplifted following the 2019 house-to-house registration and the publication of the voters list.

The last LGE was last held on November 12, 2018