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GECOM to ask CARICOM vote recount scrutineers to extend stay

(from left) Ambassador Colin Granderson, Mr. Sylvester King; Ms. Cynthia Barrow-Giles; and Mr. John Jarvis. (Caricom Secretariat picture)

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is set to ask that the three-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) recount team extend its stay in Guyana because the exercise is expected to last longer than 25 days, although the National COVID-19 Task Force has approved two additional workstations, Elections Commissioner Vincent Alexander said Monday.

He said the increase in the number of workstations from 10 to 12 would increase the counting of the more than 300,000 remaining votes .”My own guesstimate is that it would not allow us to complete it in twenty-five days but it will significantly impact on the number of days,” he said, adding that he did not calculate the rate.

Alexander, the longest serving Elections Commissioner, said the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chairman, Retired Justice Claudette Singh and CARICOM Secretary-General, Irwin La Rocque would eventually be in contact over extending the stay of the three-member team draw from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. “I would think that once we set up those two stations and we do the math in terms of how much longer than twenty-five days we are likely to take, it is not unlikely for us to say to them that here is our final position in terms of timing and that we’d like their best consideration,” Alexander said.

The CARICOM team is, at the end of the recount, expected to present a report to GECOM on the credibility of the votes cast on March 2, 2020 general and regional council elections.

GECOM had identified up to eight potential sites inside the Arthur Chung Conference Centre at Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown for additional workstations, but Alexander said the National COVID-19 Task Force rowned on several instances such as no social distancing , no wearing of masks by GECOM staff, insufficient soap and sanitisers and congestion at the building in determining how many more stations to approve.

“The report has expressed some concern about our total adherence to the stipulations that they had previously given to us. In giving permission, they emphasize that we should always adhere to the guidelines in terms of social spacing, washbasins, and sanitising,” he said

GECOM’s Spokeswoman, Yolanda Warde confirmed that  the  recount of votes cast in regions six and seven will begin on Tuesday at the two respective stations.

At the end of Monday, 54 boxes of ballots were counted for Regions 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, and  the 608 boxes of general votes and 609 boxes of regional votes were tabulated.