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Only GECOM’s results are official; exit polls possibly “dubious, possibly inaccurate”

In the wake of a controversy that erupted at the weekend over the posting of purported results on Saturday’s voting by the soldiers, police and prison service personnel, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on Monday urged Guyanese to regard only its announcements as official.

Opposition coalition candidate, Attorney-at-Law James Bond has defended his Facebook posts, saying they were the results of an exit poll. That was after the Chairman of the Joint Services, Brigadier Mark Phillips publicly condemned Bond.

The incumbent People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) has also chastised Bond. Although Former President Bharrat Jagdeo on Sunday called for Bond to be charged in connection with the results that he posted on his Facebook profile, the Guyana Elections Commission said there was no law prohibiting exit polls but molestation of voters is a criminal offence.

 In addition, it must be recognized that while there may be no specific Laws making Exit Polling an offence, there are Laws relating to the molestation of voters entering and exiting Polling Stations. The secrecy of the Ballot must remain sacrosanct. In any case, the reliability of results emanating from an Exit Poll is dubious, unreliable and very possibly inaccurate,” said GECOM in a statement.

Following is the full text of GECOM’s statement:

The duty of declaring the final official results of the 2015 General and Regional Elections rests exclusively with the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). Any other information provided by any source(s) other than GECOM must not be considered as legitimate or valid by the citizenry. GECOM wishes to advise the public that only official elections results announced by GECOM are to be accepted. Any other claims to results would be spurious and unofficial.

GECOM will be conducting free, fair and transparent elections on May 11, 2015, and would like to appeal to all stakeholders to peacefully accept the final official results of the 2015 General and Regional Elections. GECOM is also calling on all individuals and/or groups purporting to conduct exit polls and announcing their ‘findings’, to desist from this potentially dangerous and reckless practice, since their utterings may serve to stir unrest and create further uneasiness in an environment which is already tense. Moreover, extant electoral laws and guidelines mandate only GECOM as the sole legal authority to announce official election results in Guyana. In addition, it must be recognized that while there may be no specific Laws making Exit Polling an offence, there are Laws relating to the molestation of voters entering and exiting Polling Stations. The secrecy of the Ballot must remain sacrosanct. In any case, the reliability of results emanating from an Exit Poll is dubious, unreliable and very possibly inaccurate.

GECOM is currently working unremittingly to ensure it delivers elections that are free, fair, credible and transparent. Every area of elections management is being competently and professionally managed by committed men and women, led by an experienced group of Commissioners. Therefore, all political parties and their supporters must be cognizant and supportive of GECOM’s efforts to submit results that are accurate, and not contribute to any act that will stymie and undermine this process.

The integrity of the electoral process must be measured by the professional, efficient, effective, and transparent electoral management best practices being exercised by GECOM. Further, the electoral processes are being managed by a cadre of trained professional staff, and are being monitored by a combination of renowned international and local observers. As a consequence, political parties and their supporters must uphold GECOM’s demand that the May 11, 2015 election is conducted in a peaceful and harmonious atmosphere, and that the final official results announced by GECOM are treated with respect and accepted by all stakeholders.