Commonwealth recommends speedy election results

Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 June 2015, 22:13 by GxMedia

Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Dr. Steve Surujbally and the Commonwealth Secretary General, Kamalesh Sharma.

The Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Dr. Steve Surujbally and the Commonwealth Secretary General, Kamalesh Sharma have agreed that the tedious and time-consuming system of the collection, delivery and declaration of official election results needs to be changed.

“Moving forward GECOM could try to reduce the many steps currently used to transmit elections results while still maintaining unmitigated transparency,” said GECOM in a statement on the meeting between the two men held Sunday.

A usually reliable senior GECOM source told Demerara Waves Online News that the system in place for the collection, transmission and declaration of results can only be changed by law.

GECOM said Surujbally and Sharma “agreed that this system is loaded with all sorts of delays which can likely result in a number of unintended consequences inimical to the maintenance of peace and preservation of the good order of society.”

The law spells out that the ballots are counted, tallied and posted on the polling stations. They are then transmitted through the Deputy Returning Officer and Returning Officer to the Chief Elections Officer who calculates the results. The results are then declared by the Chief Elections Officer only after the approval by the seven-member commission.

“The entire procedure is manual as allowed by the law,” said the GECOM official.

On average, the declaration of election results has been taking almost one week since 1992. The law allows for 15 days maximum.

The GECOM official said the major stumbling block to the speedy transmission and declaration of results is the geography of Guyana- trails, rivers, mountains, hills, savannahs.

With the advent of the Internet, satellite and cellular phones, the official says the long delay in announcing the winner of future elections can be addressed by using modern communication technologies.

GECOM said other important recommendations addressed in the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Final Report on the 2015 General and Regional Elections, would be the need to utilize more buildings as polling Stations that are properly equipped to facilitate persons living with physical disabilities.