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GECOM Chairman to make key recount decisions on Friday

Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Retired Justice Claudette Singh will Friday hand down crucial decisions that will determine how long the national recount of ballots cast in last month’s general elections would take.

Election Commissioner Vincent Alexander said Singh reported that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) already expressed concerned that 20 workstations would result in too much congestion of large numbers of persons in light of the coronavirus, COVID-19. “This is a concern that I had raised on a number of occasions in making my own presentation because the calculations show that if we are to have twenty workstations you are going to have somewhere in the vicinity of three-hundred persons assembling and it’s my humble opinion that in the context of COVID, you cannot have three hundred persons assembling in one place at this time,” he said. He reiterated that 20 workstations would see tents having to be erected in the compound of the Arthur Chung Conference Centre which would could possibly be a recipe for “mob” behaviour.

He told the media that the GECOM Chairman, having received arguments and proposals, could very well strike a compromise of 8 to 10 workstations and allocate 90 minutes per ballot box instead of two hours that were proposed by the Chief Elections Officer.

Alexander said counting each box with six to 8 counting stations can take 32 to 64 days ranging from half hour to two hours per box.

In that regard, Alexander said he would not be surprised if the GECOM Chairman strikes a compromise in her decision on Friday. “It seems to me given where we started the compromise timing should be the hour and a half,” he said.

She is also expected to meet with the National COVID-19 Task Force before arriving at her decisions.

The Elections Commissioner said CARICOM was also exploring the possibility of sending three scrutineers and direct audio-video streaming to others in the Caribbean who would be unable to come to Guyana.

If the GECOM Chairman makes her decisions on Friday, the gazetted order could be issued over the weekend.

A Ghanian electoral adviser also attended the GECOM commission meetings.

The Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield’s proposal had entailed three workstations and two hours per ballot box which would have taken 156 days.

But after much haggling, there are now two proposals – 6 to 8 or 20 workstations.