Recount Order should be set aside – Commissioner Alexander

—says Lowenfield questions are fair

DPI, Guyana, Friday, July 10, 2020

Commissioner of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Vincent Alexander believes that the National Recount Order used to facilitate the 33-day national recount of the March 2 General and Regional Elections should be set aside.

The Recount Order was among a series of issues dealt with by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) when it ruled on the Ali/Jagdeo appeal on Wednesday.

The CCJ ruled that the Recount Order could not be used to create a “new regime” for Guyana’s General Elections when there exist Article 177 of the Constitution and Section 96 of the Representation of the People Act (RPA).

On Thursday, GECOM’s Chair Justice (Ret’d) Claudette Singh requested via letter, that Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield submit his final report to the commission using the valid votes generated on the Certificates of Recount of the National vote Recount. The Order, she said was pursuant to Article 177 (2) (b) of the Constitution and Section 96 of the RPA.

The CEO, however, responded to the Chair asking that she provide further guidance to her request since the ruling of the CCJ could impact his report.

Commissioner Alexander said the Commission’s meeting this afternoon facilitated a lengthy discussion of the CEO’s letter.

“He was raising the question on how can I do that when the CCJ said we cannot use the recount to create a new regime. In keeping with the Constitution and the RPA, there seems to be some conflict there.”

Alexander said the CEO has made a fair request since there are clearly collisions between requesting that he responds under 177 of the Constitution and 96 of the RPA, while at the same time specifying that the final count must come from the recount.

“There are issues that one can identify now from the recount from the standpoint of the CCJ. The CCJ sought to define a valid vote by going back to the RPA.”

“If you do that, then there would be a difficulty because some of what we did at the recount flies in the face of their definition of a valid vote. The argument is, is that if you are not operating under the order specifically and you have taken it back to the RPA, the process would have been corrupted by actions taken in keeping with the order.”

He said now that the CCJ has ruled, for all intents and purposes the Order should be set aside.

“I find that the CCJ in its ruling has conflicts. The CCJ, for example, defined a valid vote as one counted in the first instance, all the votes being valid except those that were rejected at the time. I see that there is a conundrum created.”

In his letter today, the CEO reminded Justice Singh that the CCJ in its ruling endorsed the view that GECOM cannot determine credibility.

He said it, therefore, holds that Order 60 of 2020 of the National Recount Order cannot be executed in its entirety. As a result, “a final credible count as conceived by the commission and expressed in the Order, cannot be attained,” Lowenfield stated.

He said the CCJ has opined that Order 60 or the National Recount Order, is in tension with the Constitution of Guyana and could not create a new election regime. To this end, the CEO is asking which results of the elections should be declared.

Justice Singh this afternoon responded to the CEO. However, no guidance was provided.

“In response to your request for guidance on which results of the March 2 Elections can be declared, you are accordingly advised that my letter dated July 9, 2020 stands,” Justice replied.

The CEO has been given until 11am on Saturday to submit his report.