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Ballots will be counted despite defective ballot stamp, handwritten numbers- Surujbally

GECOM Chairman, Dr. Steve Surujbally and APNU+AFC’s David Patterson

by Zena Henry

Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Dr. Steve Surujbally on Monday assured voters at Central High School , Smyth Street, Georgetown that their votes would be counted although a defective stamp was used to stamp ballot papers and several numbers were handwritten.

He apologized to those gathered and assured them that their ballots cast would be tallied. He said it was not the polling agents’ fault.

Authorities sent for another stamp to make way for the resumption of voting there. The Presiding Officer told Surujbally that her training had required her to write the number with a pen if the stamp was not working.

Confusion erupted earlier after voters alleged that a number of the ballots were not properly stamped, resulting in the suspension of voting in that area.

Surujbally said a similar problem was identified at a polling station at West Ruimveldt.

The issue surfaced after man and a woman alleged that when the ballot papers were stamped, one of the numbers was not working resulting in only five numbers appearing. Some say about 49 votes have been affected but voters contend that it may be more considering the fact that voting began at 6 AM. “They wait till the young come out to fool them. We came cool and calm to nasty we finger and watch wah dem doing. You can’t tell we months you preparing for elections and your stamp aint working, “ said a voter.

There are calls for the ballot box to be broken and corrective action taken, but agents for the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) are objecting on the basis that the box is supposed to open after polls close at 6 AM.

Representative for A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) David Patterson said he understands that “GECOM is saying that all of the votes would be counted but we are waiting on the CEO (Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield) to confirm this and come up with something to satisfy the people and us,” he said.

APNU+AFC candidate, Nicolette Henry had earlier thanked voters to be vigilant and urged those gathered to be peaceful.