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– GECOM CommissionerBy Kiana Wilburg The behaviour of some political candidates during the 2015 election campaign period has ledGECOM Commissioner, Vincent AlexanderCommissioner of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Vincent Alexander, to the conclusion that the Code of Conduct signed by political parties needs to go beyond moral persuasion.Alexander insists that it needs to include serious sanctions to ensure that those in breach can be held accountable for their actions. He recalled that just a few months ago, he experienced a situation in Bolivia when that country was conducting its elections.He said that a set of candidates were disqualified because of the inappropriate behaviour of one. “This happened when I was there and as such, I would recommend that the Code of Conduct has sanctions,” the GECOM Commissioner added.He did not venture to say specifically which political party would have been in serious trouble were such a system in place for the election. Alexander did contend, however, that there were apparent cases of infringement of the Code.“I saw for example an election ad which asked the question ‘how was the $50M stolen from the post office spent?’ So it could have only been the other major political party it was speaking to. It was the dirtiest and most malicious thing someone could think of,Wholesale NBA Jerseys,” Alexander opined.The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) was responsible for that advertisement. It was alluding that its major threat—A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU + AFC) was the beneficiary.Alexander expressed, too, that there is a need to change the situation surrounding the issuing of Certificates of Employment and the highly politicized process of choosing the commissioners. Alexander, who has served since 2007 as a Commissioner, said that it is a topic that needs to be discussed or debated.The GECOM Commissioner also said that the election body’s status as a budget agency has to be changed. He opined that it should be allowed with the Executive to determine its own budget,Cheap MLB Jerseys, and the Executive should not intervene in the release of its funds.Alexander noted that the campaign financing legislation needs to be revised as well as the drafting of relevant laws to address the use of state resources during the election campaign period.Asked if he felt that the slothfulness of the voting process allows for manipulation, the GECOM Commissioner answered in the negative. He said that the tardiness of the voting process did not allow for that, but reflected rather, an attempt by officers to be effective and avoid making errors.He said that he felt the process of counting the votes was done expeditiously, but he admitted that delays did occur from the time of compilation of ballots to the declaration of results.The GECOM Commissioner stated that there may have been a period where mischief-makers could have attempted some things, though there are safeguards in place.He qualified that this “period” could have been during the movement of ballot boxes and SOPs from one place to the other. Alexander said that once you have these things in transition, “who knows what physical intervention could take place, notwithstanding the efforts of GECOM.”Some of these efforts he said allowed for the various party officials to accompany the boxes from one place to the other, but there were instances where transportation was not available for everyone.He said that the human system is as good as it could be. While the Commission has not earmarked any international system that could be more useful than the one currently in place, Alexander noted that there are electronic systems for transmission and compilation of votes which would eliminate the human intervention.The GECOM Commissioner said that while there are pros to the electronic system, he said that there are concerns that even that could be hacked. He opined that the political parties have not gotten to the point of confidence in those systems so as to grant GECOM the permission to go ahead with it.Even though General and Regional Elections recently concluded, Alexander posits that the Commission can handle this year, the holding of Local Government Elections.“In fact, we were prepared for Local Government Elections even before the General and Regional Elections. Much of what delays GECOM’s delivery has to do with statutory dates. For example; the list of Candidates for the Local Government Elections must be submitted to us within 21 days before elections, so you start off knowing you need almost a month already. And, we require at least three months’ notice for the holding of those elections.”Alexander explained that the key function of the Guyana Elections Commission is essentially to conduct national elections,Wholesale Soccer Jerseys Authentic, in addition to conducting national registration and maintaining a record of registrants.He said that the Commissioners are like members of a board where they can monitor the operations of the organization. The Commission comprises seven commissioners, one of whom is the Chairman, Dr. Steve Surujbally.Three are appointed by the President and three by Leader of the Opposition. The Chairman is appointed from a list of five persons.Alexander said that the electoral process is really intended to administer a system that seeks to have elected, 65 members of the National Assembly – 25 elected through regional constituencies and 40 through the top up list.For the purpose of elections, Guyana is divided into 10 districts. The seats for those electoral districts are allocated based on the process of proportional representation.Asked if there were there more or less challenges in the 2011 elections as opposed to 2015,Wholesale NFL Jerseys, Alexander said that he was more challenged in 2011, mainly because he was a freshman.“But in 2015, I was more confident about what to expect. This year, there were some attempts to do some things to improve the system. For example, in 2011 the Chief Elections Officer (CEO) when he brought the results to GECOM did not specify the working of the translation of absolute votes into seats.”The GECOM Commissioner said that this year,Cheap NFL Shop, it was indicated to the CEO for that to be done.Among other efforts, Alexander highlighted that there were greater attempts at training staff for the 2015 elections. He concluded that the electoral process, despite its hiccups, was free, fair and credible.
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