Recount does not mean automatic declaration of winner -GECOM Commissioner Alexander

Last Updated on Friday, 3 April 2020, 22:49 by Writer

Pro-coalition elections commissioners (l-r) Desmond Trotman, Vincent Alexander and Charles Corbin.

Pro-coalition Elections Commissioner, Vincent Alexander on Friday said the results of a national recount of votes cast in the March 2, 2020 general elections would not necessarily be used to declare the winner but he could not say whether that could mean fresh elections.

“That matter of what will happen at the end of the recount has not been addressed,” he told News-Talk Radio Guyana 103.1 FM/Demerara Waves Online News when asked whether the results of the recount would be legal to declare a winner. He added that the talks so far have not focussed on the end of the process as yet. “That’s a question up in the air,” Alexander remarked.

Earlier Friday pro-People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Elections Commissioner, Sase Gunraj saw no need for GECOM to make it explicit that the results of the recount would be the basis for declaring a winner because that would be an automatic expectation.

Alexander told reporters that the seven-member commission on Friday decided that the recount would be made in accordance with Guyana’s constitution,”which says that GECOM can deal with its difficulties as it deems fit” in addition to Section 22 of the Representation of the People Act rather than provisions in that law dealing with a recount.

On the question of what would be the purpose of a recount if it would not be to arrive at a result, Alexander questioned, “if you have a corrupt elections and the recount bears that out, what’s the purpose of the recount?”

He said “you would have no choice” to declare a winner if the recount shows that the results are credible. “The recount is clearly to determine the final count and the credibility of the process,” he said. Alexander said he was unprepared to state what would be so grave that results of the elections would be deemed “corrupt”.

“An election has to be premised on a free and fair process and if there is anything that questions the freeness and fairness, then it brings the election into question,” he said. Alexander said he has not addressed his mind to whether there should be fresh elections as it seems to be more a “one day at a time process.”

But Gunraj said he expects that the results from the recount would be used as the basis for the final declaration. “That is implied in our decision for the recount…The method of the declaration is what has to be decided on but obviously the results of the recount shall be the results of the elections,” he said. He said the need for the recount emerged because of the currently “flawed process” that Guyana is faced with.

PPP GECOM Commissioners: (left to right) Sase Gunraj, Robeson Benn and Bibi Safora Shadick

He said the effect of a recount now means that the 10 regional/district declarations would be set aside. “Those will not form the basis for the results of the elections,” said Gunraj.

Due to the fact that GECOM would use the constitution, Alexander said GECOM’s administration headed by the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield required “clear instructions on what we mean by a recount and how we will proceed with a recount.”

Issues to be dealt with include the fact that it would be a GECOM-supervised recount, an order to be issued to the administration, and whether the recount would mean a recount of the votes or whether all the material in the ballot boxes such as the proxies and people who voted without identification cards would be considered.

“I think there is a fair consensus that that has to happen so in a sense, while we have agreed to a recount, we are still considering the modalities under which the recount will be done and it is clear it will not be a mere numerical recount. It will be an examination of all that took place based on what’s now in those boxes,” Alexander said.

Against the background of deep-seated and wide-ranging concerns about the credibility and transparency of the results that have been declared for Region/District Four by Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo, commissioner Alexander said the GECOM-supervised recount does not include the Returning Officers.