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GECOM administration to probe documents missing from ballot boxes

The Guyana Elections Commission’s (GECOM) administration is Saturday expected to report the findings of its investigation into documents that were not in 15 to 21 ballot boxes on the East Coast Demerara to the seven-member decision-making body, Elections Commissioner Vincent Alexander said.

“The Secretariat needs to do an investigation into this mater and to render a report on this matter before we proceed to make a determination in relation to those ballots,”

He said the ballots from those boxes have been counted but they would not be tallied until the Commission and its administration decide on the way forward.

Unofficial results from The Citizenship Initiative website , www.guyanaresults.com , show that A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) has so far won 193,939 votes and the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) 210,310 votes.

The GECOM Commissioner said the absence of those documents  makes it impossible to reconcile the ballots with the voters’ list and counterfoils from which they were detached.

Ahead of the report, Alexander already ruled out the estimated 3,00o to 5,000-odd people being disenfranchised because the documents have not been located, but he said the Commission would have to decide how those people would be able to vote for the party of their choice.
“At the end of the day you can’t disenfranchise people because people would have voted,” he said, adding that doing so does not necessarily mean using the same ballots.

But PPP Executive Member, Anil Nandlall argued that there is no legal basis for not tallying the votes cast because the Statements of Poll that are being held in abeyance by the Commission would prove that the count was accurate. “There is no wrongdoing and the Statements of Poll are accurate. They reflect accurately what transpired at the station. The ancillary documents were wrongfully separated and conveyed separately to the Returning Officer where they are in the custody now of GECOM,” he said.

While Nandlall acknowledged that the documents have value, he said their “absence or accuracy will not invalidate a ballot because a voter is an innocent person.” GECOM’s “golden rule”, he said provides for all ballots to be authentic and bear the six-digit stamp.

Nandlall, who is an Attorney-at-Law, said about nine or 10 ballot boxes are from PPP strongholds and so APNU+AFC solicited support for the observation reports to be written inaccurately “and we are canvassing to change that.”