The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM)
has released its official list of polling places ahead of Monday’s
poll, showing among other things that over 10,000 electors will vote in
tents on Elections Day.
This is according to the list, which shows that there is a total of 49 polling stations that are slated to be housed in tents in almost every region. They are mostly delineated according to their alpha range or the names of electors listed. In district four alone, particularly on the East Coast corridor that uses Coldingen as the office, there are over 40 such stations. For instance, in district four, Coldingen, there are polling stations under tents in the MMC Parking Lot (Alpha range A-L), which will host 353 electors and another tent with an Alpha range of M-Z, where 384 electors will vote.
In the Good Hope Nursery School compound, there are four polling stations set up in tents. This includes one with an Alpha range of A-M where 479 will vote; another with an Alpha range N-Z, where 419 will vote; a third one with an Alpha range of A-N, where 322 will vote and a final one with an Alpha range of O-Y, where 308 will vote. There will also be tents in the Melanie playfield, which will contain a polling station catering for Alpha range A-F, where 348 will vote; a station in Alpha range G-M, where 310 will vote and one with an Alpha range of N-Y, where 416 will vote. In the Paradise Playfield, there will be a tent with a polling station for those whose Alpha range is A-W, where 476 will vote; one with an Alpha range A-W, where 506 will vote; one with an Alpha range A-Y, where 356 will vote and one where 43 will vote. There are two polling stations situated in tents in the Enterprise Gardens Playground, where there will be 391 and 405 electors voting. Meanwhile, in track A Coldingen Playground, 348 electors will vote under a tent, while a second polling station will service electors in the Alpha range M-Z, totalling 340 electors.
Other stations Along the East Bank of Demerara (EBD) corridor, the tents opposite Windsor Estate, where 162 electors are scheduled to vote, and Perseverance, where 354 electors are scheduled to vote, are in place.
However, Eccles residents have already expressed concern over the tent opposite the Windsor Estate. When this publication had visited the location, the location was a large plot of unprepared land which residents informed is used for grazing cows. There is no direct passageway from the road to the intended site since it is separated by a trench devoid of any bridge.
To access the site, one must either jump the weed-choked trench or walk some distance around down a red loam pathway. Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) Chairman Hafeez Hack had been adamant in his belief during an interview that in choosing that location, the intent was to frustrate voters. In district seven, Bartica has a number of polling stations in tents, including two in Skull Point servicing 10 electors. Meanwhile, District 8 (Paramakatoi) contains tents in Aquafria (Alpha range A-G), which services five electors, and Chenapau mouth (Alpha range A-X), which services 87 electors. District seven (Kamarang) has a single tent that services 15 electors, while in the case of Mahdia, Region Eight, GECOM set up a tent at the Kuratoka Landing, for one single elector. In district nine (Lethem), there is a tent at Moco Moco settlement, (seven electors), Marakanata Ranch (15 electors), Dadanawa ranch (31 electors) and Marudi, (50 electors). GECOM’s decision to use tents for the upcoming General and Regional elections on Monday has come with some criticism. The decision came about because of GECOM’s avoidance of the use of private buildings as polling places. Since it was announced that GECOM would be cutting down on the number of polling places and specifically, private residences, the prevailing concern has been that instead of GECOM facilitating a smooth and easy process, the Secretariat’s decisions will make voting so difficult for voters that they will stay home.
With all the contention that has led up to this point, the elections are expected to be watched intently by a number of international observers and technical advisors in the country to oversee the process. It is the first time that the European Union will be deploying a fully-fledged team of observers on the ground for Guyana’s elections. The Carter Center is also involved, with it being announced that former Prime Minister of Senegal, Aminata Touré and Chairperson of The Carter Center Board of Trustees, Jason J Carter (the grandson of former US President Jimmy Carter) will co-lead the Carter Center’s international election observation mission in Guyana. Other overseas-based observers expected to participate in overseeing the election include teams from the Organization of American States (OAS), as well as the Caribbean Community (Caricom).
GECOM is also getting assistance from a number of technical advisors who were provided by other countries and international organisations. Canada, for instance, is providing GECOM with Jean-Pierre Kingsley, a Canadian elections expert. The Commonwealth is also providing the services of its senior technical advisor, Dr Afari Gyan, who arrived in Guyana last month. In addition, Dr Syed Nasim Zaidi, an elections advisor from India, has also joined the team.