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Boodoo rejects Alexander’s accusations on election results

Gocool Boodoo

Former Chief Elections Officer, Gocool Boodoo has sought to avoid blame for initially presenting inaccurate results for the 2011 general and regional election, in stark contrast to accounts by an opposition-nominated elections commissioner.

In a letter to the privately-owned Stabroek News, Boodoo said the results were given to him by a department. “The  fact  of  the  matter  is  that  the  results  presented  to  the  Commission  for  ratification  was  what  was  presented  to  me  by  the  Information  Techno-logy  section,” he said.

Boodoo-whose contract was not automatically renewed by a majority vote of the seven-member commission-did not address specific claims by opposition-nominated commissioner, Vincent Alexander that he and Boodoo had had bitter exchanges over the formula that had been initially used to calculate the results. Alexander has accused Boodoo of deliberately using the wrong formula that had initially given the Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) a one-seat majority in the 65-seat House. The ruling party nominated commissioners had not opposed Boodoo’s retention.

When the calculation was done using the correct formula, it was the combined opposition A Partnership for National Unity (26 seats) and Alliance For Change (seven seats) that had held the one seat majority.

He charged that “all the rantings about change in formula and manipulation of numbers” was aimed at tarnishing his good name. “This  is  a  clear  attempt  to  discredit  me  so  that  Commissioners  would  not  support  my  retention. Nevertheless, it did not work as  was  expected, since those  who  were  aware  of  the  facts  could  not  have  been  moved,” he said.

He did not address questions by the opposition about the award of the geographical constituency seat for Region 10 was awarded to Samuel Hinds in the 2006 elections.

Boodoo also sought to seek comfort in the presence and position of the Organisation of American States (OAS). “The  OAS  has  made  its  position  clear  on  this  matter  and  so  I  would  not  bother  to  repeat  that  here. For  the  entire  period  leading  up  to  the  declaration,  the  OAS  had  a  representative  at  my  desk  overlooking  all  that  was  being  done  and  there  was  nothing  ‘irregular’  since  Commissioners  were  also  present,” he said.
The Chief Elections Officer is responsible for certifying and announcing the results of the elections to the public.

In part, the OAS reported that:
During the tabulation process, there were several incidents observed by the OAS which demonstrated the lack of application of uniform procedures. These issues included:
1. While the Statements of Poll (SOPs) were supposed to arrive at GECOM’s offices with a police escort, he OAS teams stationed at the tabulation center in Georgetown observed at
least three envelopes containing statements of poll being delivered by unaccredited and unescorted drivers, by GECOM staff, or by Deputy Returning Officers. In addition, some of the arriving SOPs were not delivered in the pre-printed envelopes provided by GECOM for security of the process, but rather in a manila type envelope.

2. GECOM announced several delays to scheduled press briefings regarding partial results, and for the first 36 hours of the tabulation issued results to the press as a percentage of the voter registration list rather than votes cast.

3. For the majority of the process, GECOM’s Commissioners examined and signed off on the
original copy of each statement of poll upon arrival at the tabulation center, prior to their distribution to simultaneous manual and digital tallying processes.

Nonetheless, on at least two occasions, statements of poll were seen to bypass this system and were delivered directly to the manual tabulation process by the CEO.

4. On the morning of November 29th the procedure in effect was reversed by the GECOM Chairman to institute the direct delivery of statements of poll to the manual tabulation process, prior to verification by the Commissioners in order to speed up the process. After approximately half an hour, due to concerns expressed by some of the Commissioners ver the change in procedures, GECOM reverted ack to the original process. During this half hour
time period, the OAS observed the Chairman deliver statements of poll contained in at least three
envelopes to the manual tabulation center without having been scanned, copied, or distributed to the IT process.
 
In addition, prior to the declaration of results the IT department was unable to finish processing all
of the statements of poll, as 307 were not in the digital tabulation center’s system half an hour before the originally scheduled declaration of results when the Chief Electoral Officer reported to the OAS Electoral Observation Mission via telephone that the count had been concluded and the results were scheduled to be declared. Subsequently, the press conference to announce the results was postponed for  more than two hours.