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Recount uncovers irregularities; some boxes excluded from tabulation – GECOM’s Alexander

Pro-coalition Elections Commissioner says some boxes of ballots have been excluded from the tabulation of votes  cast until the seven-member Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) decides what should be done.

“We have instances, for example, where the number of ballots are greater than the number crossed off on the official voters list. A number like that is a credibility issue,”  he said shortly after Day 3 of the national recount of votes cast in 2,339 ballot boxes.

He said there have been discrepancies totalling 20 to 30 votes.

Alexander said the Commission decided that those votes would be counted but not yet included in the tabulation until GECOM “adjudicates” on their fate. “Matters of that sort, the count will be completed but we will not longer include those boxes on the tabulation until such time as the commission has adjudicated on those boxes,

The GECOM Commissioner hinted that the failure to cross of the names of persons who voted could lead to those persons no longer be hired either due to fraud or  wrongdoing. He added that GECOM’s decisions could lead to the validity of the elections and that could affect the number of votes cast.

At the same time, Alexander it was too early to draw conclusions,

Another concern, Alexander said, the recount uncovered was that the number of  people who voted by affidavits exceeded the number of affidavits that were found in the box. He could not give a figure, but said “it was not an insignificant number.”

But People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Executive Member, Anil Nandlall said so far of the estimated 100 of the 2,339 boxes of ballots that have been counted so far, almost 100 percent of the recount shows that the Statements of Recount match the PPP’s Statements of Poll that were provided on polling day, March 2, 2020 general and regional elections. “I am pleased to report that of the number of boxes that have been counted- today we will continue over a hundred- I am pleased to say that the SOPs (Statements of Poll) that are in the possession of the PPP have again, each one of them have been vindicated by the recount; the numbers are almost identical to the Statements of Poll that the PPP has in its possession,” he said.

Amid persistent claims by the incumbent A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) that people have voted in the names of dead persons and emigrants, Nandlall echoed the position of PPP Bharrat Jagdeo that such concerns must be challenged and addressed by an elections petition. “That cannot affect the process. We are dealing with a recount of the ballots cast. That is what we are dealing with – a recount of the ballots that were cast and counted by the presiding officer on elections night. How those ballots got there and whether they were rightly placed there are matters for an election petition,” Nandlall said. The former Attorney General said those issues have to be thrashed out based on vast aspects of law, saying that people who are making claims that some voters either died or migrated without a “shred of evidence” to suggest “these wild, reckless accusations.”

The GECOM Chairman voted in favour of the recount, while holding the existing 10 Regional Declarations as legal, in response to widespread local, Caribbean and international calls for the next government to be sworn in only on the basis of credible and transparent results.