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Is PPPC’s request for recount of some ballots legal?- Opposition

Last Updated on Wednesday, 13 May 2015, 15:35 by GxMedia

Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield

The A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) + Alliance for Change (AFC) coalition is rejecting the People Progressive Party Civic’s call for a recount of the ballots in regions/districts 1, 2 and 8.

Sometime Tuesday night the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) requested a recount of ballots “in areas where we had reports of a lot of (votes) being rejected for spurious reasons.”

Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield has shared that the PPP/C wants sixteen (16) boxes in Region One, nine hundred and eighty nine (989) in Region Two and eight (8) in Region Eight to be recounted.

In the case of Region Eight, four of the boxes are in Mahdia and the remainder is in the North Pakaraimas. For Region Two, the PPP wants a recount of boxes up and down the Pomeroon River and from Charity to Good Hope on the Essequibo Coast.

Raphael Trotman, however, says that the coalition is rejecting the request on legal and other reason. He argued that the Representation of the People Act 1964 dictates that after statements of polls are posted there is a 12 hour window within which calls for recounts must be made. “The law says that you have twelve hours after that to contest or challenge the results. Or call for a recount. They failed to do that. Why can’t we stick with the law?” Trotman asks.

As statements of polls were posted Tuesday evening the 12 hours window would have already passed.

Trotman was unable to cite the exact section which speaks to this deadline however, and no such provision was found when checks were made by Demerara Waves.

The coalition is further arguing that for the PPP/C to now call for a recount of votes, after having declared their confidence in a comfortable victory is strange. “Was he lying to the nation yesterday… yesterday afternoon (President Donald) Ramotar said they were in a commanding lead. No party that is in a lead calls for a recount,” Trotman rationalised.

He added that the PPP/C was furnished with the same information provided to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) as well as the coalition. Trotman believes that the call may be an attempt by the PPP/C to “to delay the inevitable,” and maybe also “to do something mysterious.”

Ultimately though, it is up to GECOM, specifically its CEO, to decide whether a call for a recount will be entertained.
Section 93 of the Representation of the People Act says “a candidate appointed under Section 91 or an election agent may, when the counting or recounting of the votes cast in any ballot box is completed in conformity with Section 92 (1) (e) may request the Chief Elections Officer to have the votes recounted or again recounted; but the Chief Elections Officer may refuse such request if in his opinion it is unreasonable.”

Lowenfield has already said that the recounts are expected to begin on Wednesday and continue until Thursday or Friday before an official declaration of the winner of the May 11, 2015 general elections is known.

However, when asked Wednesday morning if he, in accordance with Section 93, perceives the request of the PPP/C to be reasonable he indicated that he was yet o fully consider Section 93. In fact, he said that GECOM’s lawyers were now considering Section 93, and that he would make a comment on his findings following such a consideration.

Lowenfield further said that the PPP/C has not provided reasons for their request for a recount beyond citing Section 24 (1) – (5) of the Representation of the Peoples Act.