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3.4 Electoral Districts.

3.4.1. Electoral Boundaries.
The current electoral system allows for elections to be conducted with the country as one constituency divided into ten (10) geographic constituencies (Electoral districts) with their respective electoral boundaries. With the system of geographical representation, each geographic constituency is classified as a polling district. The Polling Districts are divided into Polling Sub-Districts, and Polling Sub-Divisions. Each Division may have one Polling Place and several Polling Stations for each Sub-Division, or one Polling Station where the district is relatively small.

3.4.2. Identification and Selection of Polling Stations.
In the case of the 2001 elections the identification of polling stations was done against the general backdrop that no more than 450 electors would vote at one polling station within a division/sub-division. Against this general principle, Returning Officers were briefed and guided about the identification of suitable places to be designated as polling stations to be approved by the Commission.

Proposals on the location of polling stations were submitted as early as December 2000. These proposed locations of polling stations were revised on several occasions after representations by political parties and the police in consultation with the Logistics Department of GECOM using the established criteria for selection.

Single locations were utilized for several polling stations in outlying districts where the population is sparse and divisions were separated by small rivers etc. Additionally, in instances where there were no appropriate buildings in some polling divisions, polling stations were selected outside of the divisions. On such occasions, the appropriate publications were made.

3.4.3. Organisation and Management of Polling Stations.
Guyana is divided into ten (10) Polling Districts, which coincide with the country's ten Administrative Regions. The Polling Districts are divided into Polling Sub-Districts, Polling Divisions and Polling Sub-Divisions. Each Division/Sub-division may have one Polling Place and several Polling Stations, or one Polling Station where the District is relatively small.

Organogram of Polling Stations – to be inserted here

Polling Stations are organised to be supervised by Presiding Officers with assistance form an Assistant Presiding Officer and three Clerks (all GECOM STAFF). In addition to the GECOM staff, provision is in place to ensure the presence of one police rank and agents from the respective contesting political parties. All Polling Day Officials must take the Oath of Office and commit themselves to comply with all applicable regulations in place and to fulfill their roles and discharge their responsibilities in accordance with their mandate and the law. Polling Station Officials and their responsibilities are given briefly as follows:

PRESIDING OFFICER:- The person appointed as presiding Officer assumes responsibility for the efficient and effective functioning of the Polling Station to which he/she is assigned. This responsibility takes effect at least seven days before election day. The Presiding Officer must be present at the opening, during and at the closing of the poll.

ASSISTANT PRESIDING OFFICER:- The Assistant Presiding Officer assists the Presiding Officer with arranging the Polling Station prior to polling day for the conduct of poll. On election day, the Assistant Presiding Officer must arrive at the Polling Station not later than 05:00hrs to assist the Presiding Officer in putting in place arrangements for the start of the poll or voting. After the poll commences, the Assistant Presiding Officer assists the Presiding Officer in ensuring that the Polling Station operates smoothly.

POLL CLERKS I & II:- Poll Clerks I and II assist the Presiding Officer with arranging the Polling Station for the conduct of poll, before polling day. At the opening and throughout the poll, the Poll Clerk I manages the queue and conducts such other checks with assistance from Poll Clerk II to ensure that the elector is entitled to vote. At the close of the poll the Poll Clerk must assist the Presiding Officer with the counting of the ballots and the packaging and sealing of all documents etc. for delivery to the Deputy Returning Officer.

COUNTING ASSISTANT/BALLOT CLERK:- The Counting Assistant/Ballot clerk must assist the Presiding Officer in arranging the room in which the poll will take place, prior to election day. On election day the Counting Assistant/Ballot Clerk must arrive at the Polling Station not later than 05:00hrs to assist the Presiding Officer to prepare for the prompt opening of the poll at 06:00hrs. The Counting Assistant/Ballot clerk is responsible for monitoring the ballot box, ensuring that the elector's finger is stained with electoral ink and allowing him/her to cast his/her ballot, and thereafter, ensures that he/she leaves the polling station.

INFORMATION POLL CLERK: An Information Poll Clerk is stationed where there are two or more Polling Stations located in one compound. He/she is responsible for checking to ensure that the name of the elector is on the OLE and to direct the elector to the Polling station in the compound where he/she has to vote. The Information Poll Clerk also advises the elector to check with the HOTLINE at GECOM's Secretariat/Returning Officer's Office if his/her name is not found on the list.

POLLING AGENTS: Polling Agents are authorised through Letters of Appointment from their respective Political Parties to represent their parties' list of candidates at the Polling Stations to which they are assigned. Polling Agents must present their Letters of Appointment to the Presiding Officers who in turn must issue a Polling Agent with identity cards to assist with their identification at the Polling Station. After making a declaration to perform the duties assigned to him/her at the Polling Station, the Polling Agent is responsible for witnessing the examination and sealing of the ballot box, the opening and closing of poll and to sign the Poll Book as witness. He/she also ensures that voting is conducted in accordance with the procedures outlined in the Representation of the People Act, Chapter 1:03; signs the Statement of Poll as a witness and uplifts a copy for his/her record and accompanies the ballot box in the same vehicle if space is available.

POLICE OFFICER: A Police Officer is assigned to each Polling Station to provide security, assist the Presiding Officer in maintaining order, monitor and control the activities of the electors within 200 yards of the Polling Station and stand at the end of the queue at 18:00hr or 6.00 p.m. if necessary. The Police Officer is at all times under the supervision of the Presiding Officer.

Replacing Polling Station Officials:
Emergencies of several types involving Polling Day Officials may occur on Election Day.

Presiding Officer:
The Assistant Presiding Officer assumes responsibility for the operation of the Polling Station until the Presiding Officer resumes duties or the Returning Officer Deputy/ Returning Officer makes final arrangements for the smooth operation of the Polling Station.

Assistant Presiding Officer:
In the absence of the Assistant Presiding Officer, the President must immediately appoint a Poll Clerk to act. The Returning Officer /Deputy Returning Officer must be notified as soon as possible and a replacement Poll Clerk supplied.

The Returning Officer /Deputy Returning Officer must be informed immediately of the absence of a Poll Clerk or Counting Assistant/Ballot Clerk.

Other Persons Authorised to Enter the Polling Station:
Under the law, several persons are permitted to visit the Polling Station mainly to observe the process. The Presiding Officer is therefore required to accept the visitors providing that they are properly accredited with a GECOM Identity Card. Persons falling in this category are as follows:-

Election Agents:
These are appointed for each List of Candidates and may attend the poll at any Polling Station in any Electoral District.

Assistant Agents:
An Election Agent may appoint and Assistant Agent for each Polling District. Such person may attend the poll at any Polling Station within the District to which he/she is appointed.

Other Categories of Police Officers:
A Police Officer, other than the one assigned, may enter the Polling Station to execute his/her/ lawful duties in the event of riot, bomb threat on any emergency situation warranting the attention of Police. Such Police Officers must not interfere with any aspect of the balloting or counting. Returning Officer: As the Officer charged with the responsibility for the conduct of the elections in the District, the Returning Officer is expected to visit any Polling Station for which he/she has responsibility on Election Day.

Deputy Returning Officer:
The Deputy Returning Officer has the responsibility for a group of Polling Divisions of sub-District. He/she maintains close contact with the Presiding Officers making arrangements for the conduct of poll. On Election Day, he/she visits all Polling Stations under his/her supervision in order to be provided with details of the process of the polling activity by the Presiding Officer and to advice and guidance to the Presiding Officer if necessary.

Election Clerk:
The election clerk may be called upon to replace the Deputy Returning Officer/Returning Officer in case of an emergency necessitating their absence. he/she may visit any Polling Station in the District/Sub-District during the course of Elections Day.

Members of GECOM & its Secretariat:
The Chairman and Members of the Commission as well as Secretariat Staff may visit any Polling Station in the country on Election Day. He/she must be properly identified.

Observers:
GECOM may permit persons from international or local organisations to visit Polling Stations to observe the conduct of the poll. Such persons must present a GECOM Identity Card to gain entry into the Polling Station and must follow all applicable regulations.

Duly Appointed Candidates:
Credentialed Candidates have the right to visit and observe Polling Stations. They must follow all applicable regulations.

Code of Conduct for Polling Day Officials:
Polling Day Officials have a major role in the election processes. They, as Election Officials are key since they have direct contact with the electors, and the manner in which they fulfill their duties are essential to the degree of confidence that voters have in the Elections System and in GECOM. They should be courteous, polite and helpful at all times and remember to treat all voters impartially and with respect. Each of their actions must reflect the highest standards of:

  • Integrity
  • Neutrality
  • Transparency
  • Fairness

They must:

  • Respect the secrecy of the vote,
  • Ensure the security of election materials, and
  • Report promptly and accurately the election results.

3.4.4. Security Arrangements with particular reference to Election Day.
Sensitive and non-sensitive are dispatched to the various Districts prior to Election Day. Sensitive materials including ballot boxes are checked, labeled and properly secured in respective containers. Private security is arranged to attend to the containers.

In the case of the 2001 elections, guards escorted the Presiding Officers with the ballot boxes and the Statements of Poll to the Office of the Deputy Returning Officers (after the counting of the votes0, and finally to Office of the Returning Officers/various containers. Security was provided at the various containers.

Special police contingents were placed on duty at the Offices of the Returning Officers. Police escorts were also provided for Returning Officers with the Statements of Poll from their respective Districts to the Chief elections Officer at GECOM Headquarters.

All ballot boxes were returned in containers under armed police escort and is lodged in the Commission's compound under police guard on a 24-hour basis.

 

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