– urges Guyanese to peacefully exercise franchiseAs Local Government Elections (LGE) approaches, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is urging every eligible person to come out and exercise their right to vote, even as it promises to do everything to ensure a free and fair process.According to GECOM Chairman, retired Justice James Patterson, the elections mark an opportunity for citizens to take the political initiative. He was adamant that GECOM had learnt from the past and would implement an effective system.“We have learnt from errors in the past and we are building on that. Come out in droves,” Patterson encouraged citizens. “You have the right to exercise your franchise peacefully. We want to have free and fair elections here. Which way theyGECOM Chairman James Patterson at Critchlow Labour College for Nomination Daygo is no concern of ours.”Asked what GECOM is doing to ensure free and fair elections, Patterson described it as a subjective topic. But he was adamant that GECOM is doing whatever is within its power to facilitate the process.“We will do everything in our power to have it free and fair. But I have no jurisdiction in shouting at anybody when they say anything to the contrary. That’s their perspective. And that’s where subjectivity comes in.”With just over 50 days to go before Local Government Elections, GECOM said symbols it received from the seven political parties was an increase compared to the three from 2016. If the list is considered defective, the representative/deputy representative will be notified by the Returning Officer.If the party, group or individual is not satisfied with the reasons provided by the Returning Officer, they can file an appeal against refusal of approval no later than the 45th day before elections day to a Magistrate of the magisterial district.In the 2016 election, the voter turnout was 47.10 per cent. Cane Grove in Region Four saw the highest turnout with 63.56 per cent while Linden, a stronghold of the APNU, recorded the lowest, whereby out of 23,880 people eligible to vote, only 8395 cast their ballots and 116 were rejected.Georgetown, another APNU stronghold, saw 37.66 per cent with 42,313 out of the 112,364 voting. In the end, the PPP/C recorded victories in 48 out the 71 LAAs. However, the PPP/C and APNU/AFC coalition tied in Mabaruma, Region One.