GEORGETOWN, Guyana, December 3, 2022 - Chief Scrutineer for the APNU+AFC coalition Carol Smith Joseph, has asked the High Court to block the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) from using the voters list it has generated for the March 13 Local Government Elections.
In an action filed on Friday, Ms Smith Joseph maintains that the preliminary list is illegal on the grounds that it was extracted from the list for general and regional elections, and does not consider residency of electors as is required under the Local Authorities (Elections) Act.
The action was filed in the Supreme Court by Senior Counsel Roysdale Forde, on behalf of Carol Smith Joseph, against The Guyana Elections Commission, The Chief Elections Officer, The Commissioner of Registration and the Attorney General of Guyana.
Chief Scrutineer Carol Smith Joseph, has an interest in the subject matter of these proceedings as a citizen and as a Member of the Peoples’ National Congress/Reform, a political party which is a member of the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change Coalition.
The suit seeks from the High Court, “A Declaration that the Guyana Elections Commission’s failure to comply with Sections 12, 13, 14, 20, 22 and 23 of the Local Authorities (Elections) Act Cap 28:03 and the said Act in general, renders the Register of Voters for Local Government Elections, null, void and of no legal effect.
“A Declaration that the failure of the Guyana Elections Commission to compile the Register of Voters in accordance with the Local Authorities (Elections) Act Cap 28:03 is a breach of and derogation from the Constitutional principles set out in Articles 12 and 71 of the Constitution as well as the Constitutional duty imposed on the Guyana Elections Commission by Article 162 of the Constitution;
“A Declaration that the constitutional duty and mandate of the Guyana Elections Commission as provided for in Article 162 of the Constitution to compile a Register of Voters imposes and or implies a duty to compile a reasonably accurate and credible Register of Voters;
“A Declaration that the Register of Voters extracted pursuant to Section 5 (6) of the Election Laws Amendment Act by the Guyana Elections Commission for use at Local Government Elections is not reasonably accurate or credible thereby making the same unconstitutional, unlawful, null, void and of no legal effect.
The APNU+AFC Chief Scrutineer is further asking the High Court to declare that the voters register for Local Government Elections is not reasonably accurate or credible thereby making the same unconstitutional, unlawful, null, void and of no legal effect.
On the matter of residency, she is asking the High Court to decide whether an Election Laws amendment in 2000 is constitutional, because it purportedly confers discretion on GECOM the authority to exercise discretion on whether an elector is a resident in a local authority area or is “ordinarily resident” in keeping with the law.
Under section 10 of the elections law: “The place of ordinary residence of a person is generally that place which has always been, or which he has adopted as, the place of his habitation or home to which place, when away therefrom, he intends to return; and in particular, when a person normally sleeps in one place and has his meals or is employed in another place, his place of residence is where he sleeps;
“In general, a person’s place of residence is where his family is; if he is living apart from his family with intent to remain apart in another place, his place of residence is such other place;
“Temporary absence from a place of residence does not cause loss or change of residence; but where a person is, by reason of his employment, absent on the date of his application to be registered as a voter from the place where he is ordinarily resident, he shall be deemed, if he so elects, to be ordinarily resident at the place of his employment instead of at his place of residence.”
Ms Joseph wants the High Court to declare that GECOM acted beyond its powers and unlawfully in not compiling the preliminary voters list for local government in keeping with the Local Authorities Act, and purportedly compiled the preliminary voters list for LGE by extracting the list of electors from the official voters list for the 2020 general and regional elections.
“The process employed by the Commission to prepare a Register of Voters for use at the next Local Government Elections has not been in accordance with the Local Authorities (Elections) Act…. There was no Preliminary Voters List issued by the Commission in accordance with the requirements of the Local Authorities (Elections) Act Cap. 28:03 and also there was no Order issued by the Commission which permitted any Claims or Objections to be made consistent with the Local Authorities (Elections) Act Cap. 28:03,” She claimed.