Missing East Coast statutory documents “strange”- Commissioner Alexander
—GECOM Secretariat to investigate; prepare report
DPI, Guyana, Friday, June 5, 2020
The missing statutory documents from ballot boxes under review from several lower East Coast Demerara villages are “strange” and warrants an investigation, Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Commissioner Vincent Alexander said today.
The Lower East Coast came under the microscope as early as Thursday, when counting agents involved in the national vote recount of the March 2, 2020, General and Regional elections began focusing on the Region Four ballots.
Agents found that a significant number of ballot boxes are missing very important documents needed to validate the votes. These include the Official List of Electors (OLE), Counterfoils, poll books, proxies and spoiled and unused ballots among others.
“This is strange” Commissioner Alexander told reporters today.
“What makes it even stranger is that it comes in a cluster. Some have argued that it may have been similar instances prior, but I do not recall a similar instance where there was absolutely nothing else than the ballots were in the box. We have this occurring cluster.”
Following the revelations today, the commission has set aside the affected ballots and has directed its Secretariat to carry out an investigation in this matter and provide a report.
Earlier Anil Nandlall, who is the PPP’s agent for the East Coast, told journalists that the documents are in the possession of the Region Four Returning Officer. However, Commissioner Alexander said this information was never relayed to the commission when the body met briefly today.
“There seems to be a lot of information as to what might have occurred. But what we have done is tell the Secretariat to tell us what the status is. But for the time being, at the level of this operation, that information was not available.”
Asked about the impact the missing documents can have on the validity of the ballots, Alexander said there needs to be a reconciliation of the ballots.
“Here you have these ballots. You have votes cast. The votes are normally accompanied by an OLE showing the number of names ticked off, which corresponds with the number of ballots cast, which correspond with the counterfoils. So, no reconciliation could take place concerning what is in the boxes”
He opined that at the end of the day, persons cannot be disenfranchised.
“The question will, therefore, have to be asked, what has happened. The second question is how you can ensure that these people are enfranchised. That does not speak to what will be done with the specific ballots. The question of the people’s franchise has to be answered.”