…says data un-scrutinisedFormer AG Anil NandlallGECOM Chairperson Retired Justice Claudette SinghThe Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) decision to end House-to-House Registration by Saturday but to merge the data from the House-to-House Registration is not going down well with some legal minds.According to former Attorney General Anil Nandlall, GECOM should have stuck with constitutional principles instead of trying to walk a middle road. Nandlall pointed out that when constitutional compliance is at stake, placating both sides will only make matters worse.“The decision says House-to-House will be terminated. And the second component of the decision is more disturbing. It is that the data will be merged into the database. So we are rewarding those who acted in defiance of the Constitution. The data generated by this exercise is deeply flawed,” Nandlall said.“It was un-scrutinised by any political party other than the government party. Secondly, the form used to accumulate the data is the wrong statutory form. Thirdly, the data accumulated will take approximately three or more months to be inputted or cross referenced with the existing data,” he added, during his ‘Issues in the News’ programme.Nandlall noted that the data is presently in its raw form; sheets of paper filled out by scrutineers bearing the information of hundreds of thousands of electors. He explained that this data now has to be converted and entered into a computer database.On Tuesday, Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), retired Justice Claudette ‘Iron lady’ Singh, ordered an end to the ongoing House-to-House Registration exercise, bringing an end to a controversial chapter of GECOM’s recent history.The decision was taken at a statutory meeting where she decided that the exercise will be concluded as of August 31, 2019 and that GECOM will afterwards embark on more concrete steps towards the hosting of General and Regional Elections.A decision was also taken that the data gathered so far by the House-to-House exercise will be merged with the existing database. Further, a statement from GECOM explained that the Chairperson has decided that the Commission will move to an extensive Claims and Objections exercise to extract the Preliminary List of Electors (PLE).OpposedImmediately after the decision was taken, however, the People’s Progressive Party -nominated GECOM Commissioners were less than happy about the decision to merge the House-to-House Registration data with the National Register of Registrants (NRR). According to Commissioner Robeson Benn, this was not a product of their proposals.“The difficulty we have is merging and verification of the data. It was not our proposal. We have said that any merging or verification of the data is wrong. It will take a long time and it will contaminate the NRR. It will result in duplicates. And having appeared as duplicates, each one of those will have to be investigated”.“The resort to use the House-to-House Registration information is only another ploy to delay the holding of elections as required by the No-Confidence Motion. We are very unhappy about that,” Benn had said.Meanwhile, Commissioner Bibi Shadick noted that a team from GECOM – including Deputy Chief Elections Officer Roxanne Myers and the Information Technology Manager— are presently in Jamaica observing the process of cross matching fingerprints.She explained that after their return, Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield will prepare a plan proposing the timeframe to merge the data with the Register. According to Shadick, this plan will be discussed by the Commission and if necessary, further decisions will be taken.Reports indicate that during the exercise, the only political party that supervised the enumerators was the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU). The PPP was not even invited. The fact that the data was obtained at a time when the PPP played no part in supervising the enumerators was referenced by Opposition-nominated Commissioner Sase Gunraj.“I maintain that the information contained in the house-to-house process is unverified data and as a consequence should not be used. But it’s left to be seen what the secretariat comes with in terms of the use of that data,” Gunraj had said.