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GECOM recount of general election votes can take 156 days

Chief Election Officer of the Guyana Elections Commission, Keith Lowenfield.

The Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield reportedly says recounting votes in last month’s general and regional election will take 156 days, a position that the People’s Progressive Party (PPP)-nominated election commissioners rejected almost immediately.

Pro-coalition election commissioner, Vincent Alexander says the Lowenfield plan calculates that each ballot box will take at least two hours to count.

The GECOM secretariat explained that the estimated time for one ballot box to be counted was projected to be two hours, utilizing three workstations for 10 hours per day (9:00hrs -19:00hrs) at a central location to count 2,339 boxes.

The commission meets again on Thursday at 9am to consider alternative recommendations by PPP elections commissioner, Sase Gunraj.

PPP election commissioner, Robeson Benn dismissed reported claims by Lowenfield that he was provided with information to arrive at the 156-day timeline. He accused the Secretariat of misleading and misinterpreting the commission’s decisions and not providing proper advice. “The Secretariat itself is not being helpful and practical…There are all kinds of reasons being proffered, none of them practical, none of them in documentation which could be interpreted in such a way,” Benn told reporters.

He contended that based on the contents of each ballot box, a recount could take three or four days and Gunraj believed that the entire process could take one week. “I would want to reject that out of hand. This nation cannot survive a 156-day wait, but we intend to rework it to come back to find a solution,” Gunraj said.

But, Alexander said the Chief Elections Officer’s plan considers that it would take as much as two hours per ballot box at an average of 400 votes. He explained that the process would entail the counting of national and regional votes are counted separately, balancing of ballots with stubs and numbers on the voters list, and accounting for rejected and spoilt ballots.

The Private Sector Commission (PSC) earlier this week urged that the recount be confined to Region Four only because it would be a waste of time, but that drew the ire of the incumbent of A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) which called that private sector organisation a PPP “stooge.”

The Commission has decided to conduct a recount of the votes cast, in keeping with a political agreement between President David Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo.