MY TURN | RECOUNT EXPOSES RIGGING FRAUD

Many years ago, commenting on one of our past bogus elections, I remarked that, “the eagles have landed” when ballot boxes were fetched away in a light aircraft. Today, looking at claims that persons voted for the dead and for those who have left the country, I add a new refrain, “the phantoms have landed”.

In the old days when rigging was obscenely spelt differently and had become a norm at election-time, a joke was circulated about a woman who was crying hysterically.

A reporter politely asked: “Why are you crying?”

The sobbing woman replied: “My husband voted today at our village school.”

Reporter: “So, why are you crying?”

Woman: “He died 10 years ago, and I am hurt to know that Pa come back till hey and he did not come to see his faithful old wife!”

SYSTEMATIC FRAUD

I can see the 2020 elections becoming the subject of new jokes of how the dead resurrected, and voted. And there would be new ballads or rap songs how, at a time when airports were closed, some Guyanese travelled on broomsticks from overseas, voted and mysteriously disappeared!

In other words, it is clear that the 35-day recount process has unmasked a calculated and systematic fraud on our elections. Voter impersonation on a wide scale has not just defied and defiled the standards of free and fair elections, but exposed Guyana to be ridiculed as a nation with jumbie, or phantom voters!

Over 100 days have elapsed since the March 2, 2020 general and regional polls, but the long wait is about to end. It is expected that the Elections Commission will shortly make a final decision on the outcome of the elections, at the end of a four-stage recount process.

NOT FREE OR CREDIBLE

Late yesterday, it was disclosed that Chief Elections Officer, Mr. Keith Lowenfield, has submitted his report on the recount and observations regarding each of the 10 electoral districts. Immediately, before anyone had an opportunity to digest the report, the Opposition PPP literally grabbed the Chief Elections Officer by the throat in a political chokehold, and questioned his right to interpret the multitude of irregularities and observations that led him to the conclusion that the elections were not free or credible.

This has been a meticulous and protracted period that has given rise to anxieties as to the final results of an election held 106 days ago. For those who are still wondering why the recount has taken so long, it must be made clear that this process is manually driven. Each of the 460,352 ballots from the 2,339 boxes was counted, one by one. In addition, objections had to be heard and observations recorded, and all official documents used during polling had to be examined.

If nothing else, the recount had to be a thorough, painstaking and time-consuming affair, which was done under restrictive conditions at this time as Guyana faces the COVID-19 pandemic.

Though conceding that the process has dragged on for too long, I also recognise that it remains guided by the prescriptions of the Constitution, the directions of the judiciary and the scrutiny by all contesting political parties, foreign and local observers, and supervisors from the Caribbean Community.

The administrative arrangements for the recount process have been as transparent as you could expect, though the same cannot be said about the credibility of the ballots, since over 7,000 claims have been lodged about irregularities and anomalies, including voter impersonation of persons who are deceased or are living in the diaspora.

BLOATED VOTERS LIST

It seems that the bloated voters’ list for the 2020 polls has created the opportunity for the mischief of voter impersonation.

Guyana, like all other under-developed countries, has experienced the dialectics of migration whereby citizens chose to work and live in the so-called higher economies. Over decades, we suffered from brain drain, as Guyanese became both political and economic refugees overseas. Over time, family members joined them in the seemingly unending travail in search of better opportunities.

Looking at how our population suffered, Stanley Ming, an outstanding national investor, businessman, motor racer and statistical analyst, gave recent statistical data, that the total population in 1970, 1980, 1990, 2000 and 2012 was 745,000, 751,000, 723,000, 751,000 and 747,000 respectively. This gives an average of 743,000 for the past 42 years from 1970-2012.

Based on the population trend, Mr. Ming published what I accept as credible figures on what the voters list should be, using a fair average of the population at 750,000 for the period 2012-2020. He then constructed as “logical mathematical reality” a voting population of 500,000 after excluding 250,000 children below the age of 18 years.

Ming’s projected figures were based on the 2011 official list of voters which had   475,496 persons, of which 342,236 or 72 per cent voted.

He based his case on the Suriname experience where voters in 2015 and 2020 were 64 per cent of total population. In the same years, in Guyana voters were 76 per cent in 2015 (with population at 767,432) and 84 per cent in 2020 (with population at 782,766). For 2015 and 2020, the number of registered voters was 585,527 and 660,998 respectively.

PHANTOMS HAD LANDED

Assuming that the registered voters realistically were 500,000 (and not 661,000), a turnout of 460,000 would be an incredible 92 per cent, as compared to 40 per cent turnout at the local government elections in November 2018. Indeed, the phantoms had landed!

It does not need someone with a microscope to detect that something was so fishy about the 2020 elections that it stinks to the high heavens! It is not only fishy. It is fraudulent!

I have walked the journey for electoral democracy over many decades, but little did I expect that towards the end of it, I would again stumble on the crooked rocks of deception and fraud, which the recount has now exposed. It seems that I have been walking in a vicious circle. This time around, it shall not pass scrutiny or judgment. The common resolve of our dignified people must be, “no more rigged elections!”

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