No fairness and justice for the voters −Commissioner Alexander
—on GECOM’s move to tabulate ballots with missing documents
DPI, Sunday, June 07, 2020
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) decided today that it would go ahead and tabulate the Statements of Recount (SOR’s) from 29 ballot boxes from several lower East Coast Demerara villages that were found to be without the necessary statutory documents to validate the ballots.
In a majority vote in the seven-member commission, the decision was taken that no one should be disenfranchised from the voting process.
GECOM Chair Justice (ret’d) Claudette Singh told the commission that the investigation into the matter will continue nonetheless.
Commissioner Vincent Alexander, who along with two other commissioners voted against the move, said the issue is not a question of some documents missing, but all from those 29 boxes.
Between Thursday and Friday, counting agents discovered that some 29 ballot boxes from villages that traditionally supported the opposition PPP were missing the critical documents when they were opened to be reviewed.
Those documents included the Official List of Electors (OLE) or marked list, Counterfoils, Proxies, poll books, spoiled and unused ballots, among other documents.
Claims by a Deputy Returning Officer from the Lower East Coast that the Clerk of the Region Four Returning Officer told the DRO’s to send the documents to the RO, was outrightly rejected as false.
Checks made by the Chief Elections Officer (CEO) for the documents at the GECOM office were also futile.
On Saturday, the commission announced that it had set aside those boxes pending an investigation by the Commission’s Secretariat. However, that investigation has so far revealed nothing. Efforts to meet with the DROs have also been futile.
“I find that a difficult situation. In principle, the commission agreed that no voter should be disenfranchised. When one takes that decision and applies it to the many instances and on to now in the circumstance of 81 ballots in Sophia which were clearly cast by voters, when you apply the principle to that and no decision was made then there is something wrong with how we apply principle,” Alexander said
He said the 81 ballots are clearly part of a whole document; the second half which has two stamps resulted from the ballot being folded horizontally. Until now, he said a decision cannot be made on that matter.
“There are people are trying to not address the matter at all. But here you have ballot boxes with no documents available. So we don’t know at which stage how many persons turned up to vote since the OLE is not available, the counterfoils are not there, so all the information required to determine what is in that box is unavailable.”
Alexander noted that it is clear that the commission is not pursuing fairness and justice for the voters as it seems not to have an interest, unfortunately.
He said some mechanism should be sought in the case of the lower East Coast. “I can’t say who cast those votes. We seem to have a difficult situation managing this count.”