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GECOM apparently did not check its records before asking immigration dept for help

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) so far appeared not to have confirmed from its own records a claim by A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) that 207 people were marked off as voted although they were overseas, before their names were sent to the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services for verification.

GECOM spokeswoman, Yolanda Ward said the immigration department of the Guyana Police Force has since responded, saying that 172 of the 207 people did not arrive or return to Guyana on or before March 2, 2020 – elections day.

Ward declined to comment on whether the Chairman verified that the names were ticked off on the Commission’s documents before asking the Police Commissioner, Leslie James, who is the Chief Immigration Officer, to determine whether they were in Guyana.

Asked whether GECOM has any documents of its own showing that the names of those people that were sent to immigration were underlined or ticked off as having voted, Yarde said the Official List of Electors that GECOM has is removed and replaced in the boxes after the count is completed. “It’s the party’s list but GECOM’s list is the list that is in the box…Those boxes have been sealed and are back in the container, once the box has been recounted, it’s resealed with all the contents back into then container. The parties will have lists,” she told reporters.

On the question of whether parties’ lists are accurate, she said everyone should have “the same thing but of course you know human error factor and all of that but it is supposed to practically have the same markings,” she said. Yarde explained that when the poll clerk calls the names of voters, the party agents and the Presiding Officers should tick off the names.

Warde said the seven-member commission would have to discuss the next steps now that the immigration department has provided the information. “There has been no decision moving forward on that matter,” she said. “The commission is to decide on how to move the process forward,” she said.

The commission said the coalition provided the names on May 20, Commission Chairperson Claudette Singh sent them to the Police Commissioner Leslie James two days later and he responded on May 27, 2020.

APNU+AFC has accused the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) of rigging the elections by arranging for people to vote in the names of overseas-based Guyanese and deceased persons.

But the PPP cautioned Police Commissioner James and other members of the Police Force if false evidence was provided to GECOM. “Certainly if the information provided by the Commissioner of Police/his servants and or agents are false, such misrepresentation will not be without consequences at the appropriate time,” the PPP said.

That party added that it has found hundreds of people who were in Guyana on March 2 and voted, contrary to APNU+AFC claims that they were overseas. “In any event, there is no way of connecting any of the persons who APNU+AFC claim were abroad with the ballots cast on March 2, so it is all a wild fishing expedition to delay the declaration of the results,” the PPP said.