Not Guyanese, never registered, but ‘can vote’

Not Guyanese, never registered, but ‘can vote’

(BARBADOS TODAY) – A Barbadian citizen with family in Guyana has questioned how his name ended up on the voters’ list in Georgetown, even though he has never been registered there to vote.

The development comes as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) nation continues to attract international criticism over its election process, and the struggle to give a final result, despite the elections being held over three months ago, on March 2.

Joseph Isaacs, who has a Guyanese parent but was born in Barbados, said despite living in Guyana for several years as a child, he “(doesn’t) even have citizenship in Guyana”. What is even more puzzling to the 29-year-old is that an identification number appears beside his name on the final voter’s list, which was issued on Saturday, February 1.

Isaacs was able to verify the name on the list because of the address appearing beside his name, which is the same as that of his family in the Bamia/Kara Kara (north) division.
Said Isaacs: “I don’t have a Guyanese birth certificate. I don’t have a Guyanese ID card. I don’t have a Guyanese passport. I have absolutely no documentation from Guyana. Everything I have is from Barbados. How did my name end up on the list to vote?”

He said he has tried several times to contact officials in Guyana “but they out there running politics”, and his efforts have so far proved futile. While Isaacs was born in Barbados, he returned to Guyana with his family to attend school. In August 2009, after completing secondary school, Isaacs returned to Barbados with his father without obtaining any nationality documents for Guyana. “I am not supposed to be registered in Guyana because I am not even registered as a citizen or anything so. It is just that my mother is Guyanese, and while I was there from young, all my documentations are from Barbados,” Isaacs insisted.

He said it was even difficult to obtain subsidies in Guyana while there as a child in school because he was not a citizen of that country and was often told by officials that he was “not a Guyanese”. “They always say ‘Guyanese cannot go in Barbados and access benefits so you cannot have them here,” recalled Isaacs, who added that while he was seeking work there the summer before returning to Barbados he was told he would need to obtain a work permit.

Over the past several weeks concerns have been raised over whether the voter’s list, which was made up of some 660,000 so-called registered voters from a population of about 780,000, was padded.

Some pundits have estimated that the number of eligible voters in Guyana should be approximately 500,000 and that even fewer people turned out for voting. With more than 460,000 people said to have voted in the March elections, they have argued that thousands of ballots were possibly included in the results that should not have been. All previous efforts to re-verify the list leading up to the election were reportedly thwarted, and the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) was said to have abandoned its efforts last year to conduct a national house-to-house census to ensure the list was up to date.

Isaacs, who read political science and law at the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill, said he believed this phenomenon of a bloated list may have led to “voter’s impersonation”. “My name should not have been on the list. That is why you have a bloated list in the first place,” he added. Despite the general and regional elections taking place since March 2, 2020, officials in the South American country have struggled to come to a decision on what the final results should be, as controversy engulfs the vote-counting process.
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