GEORGETOWN, Guyana, April 25, 2022 - Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira, M.P, says any poll conducted in Guyana that involves humans, must go before the Ministry of Health’s Ethics Committee. Hence the recent ‘findings’ from the national public opinion poll conducted by the International Republican Institute (IRI) on Guyana’s electoral reform, lacks integrity and does not reflect the views of Guyanese.
Minister Teixeira, in a statement through Guyana's Department of Public Information, made it clear that In this regard, no request was made nor approval granted for any such poll to be conducted.
On April 13, the US based International Republican Institute (IRI), revealed its ‘findings’ from data it said was collected in Guyana between January 4 to 24, 2022, which state that a high percent of Guyanese believe electoral reforms are necessary.
The IRI said the poll was conducted in all regions of Guyana, through face-to-face interviews in respondents’ homes. The organization claims that the samples consisted of some 1,500 Guyanese adults with a response rate of 20 percent.
Teixeira however was not satisfied with the sample size, arguing that a survey conducted with a 20 percent response rate cannot answer for all Guyanese, noting that after thoroughly assessing the survey, it only leaves one to consider whether the questions were asked in a way persons could clearly interpret.
The government minister further threw ‘cold water’ on the IRI poll, arguing that one must be convinced that a survey is conducted according to ethical, scientific and technical issues and that the methodology and the integrity of the survey must be above board.
“We are concerned how it is managed and because of COVID-19 that whether other means of ensuring that the sample that was used effectively so that people in Guyana between January 4 and 24, who were being sampled were able to answer,” the minister noted.
The Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, pointed out that 11 percent of the sample equivalent to 165 persons above 18 reported that they are not registered to vote in an election, while a further 29 percent said they did not vote in the 2020 elections.
“So how can you come up with a survey response that says that people were not registered to vote when in fact, they were below the age of 18. these are questions that come up when we look at the responses in the document,” she stressed.
The minister added that there are a whole host of odd questions in the survey, pointing to one which asked about whether people would vote in the local government elections regarding the candidate.
“Well first of all we don’t have Local Government Elections, and secondly because elections haven’t been called for Local Government Elections, one doesn’t know who the candidates are or who they will be, so how do you know how to answer that question?”
They were questions also on whether persons felt they were voters’ discrimination which, Minister Teixeira deemed, “very ambiguous”, explaining that “voters’ discrimination and voters feeling that someone may have discriminated against them, by making comments on an ethnic basis are not the same thing.
Voters’ discrimination is very specific in its meaning where they don’t have access to the ballot, the don’t have access to the polling station, because they are being prevented from doing that base on the function of the Guyana Elections Commission and the way the polling stations were managed on election day,” she added.
And there were no such claims of persons being discriminated against during the March 2020 General and Regional elections, the minister claims. In fact, the observers had declared the day as peaceful.
The document disclosed that four percent of the samples was taken from Region One, six percent from Region Two, 14 percent from Region Three, 42 percent from Region Four, seven percent from Region Five, 15 percent from Region Six, two percent from Region Seven, two percent from Region Eight, three percent from Region Nine and five percent from Region 10.
With Region Four occupying the largest space on the IRI survey’s geographical map, the government is yet to locate at least one of the persons who participated at the exercise, Teixeira argues.
International Republican Institute (IRI) was founded in 1982 by U.S. President Ronald Reagan with a mission to ‘advance freedom worldwide by developing political parties, civic institutions, open elections, good governance and the rule of law’ The majority of its board, staff and consultants are said to be drawn from the Republican Party.
The organization was re-introduced to Guyana, by the PPP/C government in collaboration with the United States Embassy following the 2020 elections, and proceeded to employ the International Republican Institute (IRI), to lead the electoral reform process by way of an 18-month project to strengthen the capacity of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and the Attorney General’s Chambers.