Ballots are counted, not statutory documents
– AG insists every ballot was counted in the 49 boxes
‘’By law it is ballots that are counted and not the statutory documents that are in the ballot boxes, to tally the total of valid votes cast in Guyana’s elections.’’
This is the position of a high-ranking official in the PPP/C Government who responded to a load of disinformation and misinformation being peddled in certain circles in the country about the case of the 49 ballot boxes and the alleged missing statutory documents.
Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister, Anil Nandlall,SC, MP, speaking with the Department of Public Information, said that the political opposition is making empty noise about the fate of the documents in the 49 ballot boxes in the elections of 2020, to incite tension and confusion in the public’s mind.
The ballot boxes, he was referring to, were for the Better Hope/LBI locality which was under the control of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). Nandlall, at that time, was politically responsible for his party, the PPP/C on the East Coast of Demerara.
He said that GECOM must find the statutory documents that it allegedly misplaced. However, those documents are immaterial to the count of ballots which are in the 49 ballot boxes.
“… It is the ballots that are counted. It is the statements of polls that are totaled. And that is what gives you the results. The ballots are counted and recorded on the Statements of Poll …and SOPs are totaled. All of that are laid down in the law. Statutory documents are not necessary for the counting of ballots”, he argued.
The Attorney General said that an errant presiding officer will never be permitted by the law to throw away the statutory documents or file them improperly to cause people’s ballots to be invalidated.
“That is not the law of Guyana and that is not the law of any part of the world”, he insisted.
Side-eyeing the arguments made, the Attorney General said that the Opposition knows this well, but keep repeating the lie that they were somehow cheated out of office. This is not a new narrative, they expressed this at the recount, the CARICOM team rejected it. They canvassed it before the Courts before the results were declared and the Judiciary rejected it and advised them to file elections petition and raise those matters in the elections petition. They filed two elections petitions and were so incompetent that both were dismissed on preliminary points.
“So this narrative that they keep spewing, they end up apparently believing it. And they have innocent, uninformed but complicit bystanders listening to them and drinking that Kool-Aid wholesale,” the AG related.
According to the Legal Affairs Minister, he was informed that the documents were not included in the 49 ballot boxes on elections night and swiftly brought it to the attention of Clairmont Mingo and Keith Lowenfield who were the Chief Returning Officer for Region 4 and GECOM Chief Elections Officer back in 2020.
“Mingo investigated it and informed me that he is aware that the documents were not put into the ballot box as he had instructed, but that they were sent separately to him. And Mingo confirmed to me that he received those documents. And it is Mingo who informed me that he gave those documents to Keith Lowenfield, the chief elections officer. Keith Lowenfield subsequently confirmed to me that he received those documents from Mingo and that he stored them at GECOM storage facilities at Colidgen on the East Coast of Demerara, and that I must not worry the documents are with GECOM. No one can dispute what I am saying. I was the person (there)”, the Minister said.
The Minister said GECOM must locate those documents.
“Lowenfield must answer where those documents are, GECOM must answer where those documents are. The Commission of Inquiry will enquire into all of that…” the Minister stated.
This narrative is dangerous and must be corrected, Minister Nandlall said as he poured cold water on the opposition’s behaviour since being defeated in the 2020 elections. Referring to their repeated attempts to rig the results of the 2020 elections, the Attorney General said:
“So I am glad when they recite these things so that I can refresh the public’s memory. Because they want the people to believe that they were hallucinating…that they made up these things in their heads and that they didn’t see these things happen. They want people to doubt their own senses and their own reality. That is the narrative they are running since 2020, now it has characterised their entire conduct”, Nandlall said.
The PPP/C Government came to office on August 2, 2020. Since then the opposition has been repeating the false narrative that it was cheated out of office. It is now using the case of the 49 ballot boxes in which the statutory documents were removed deliberately to peddle its lie that some votes were missing or skullduggery afoot to try and make the public think it was indeed cheated.
“That is the kind of people you’re dealing with, people who are living in an alternate world and they want to take you into that alternate world with them. And that’s why I’m telling you it is like a mental sickness. I listen to them, these people are living another reality”, the Attorney General said.