GECOM probe into missing documents for 29 ballot boxes faces stumbling block; results excluded from tabulation so far

Last Updated on Saturday, 6 June 2020, 19:18 by Denis Chabrol

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

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on Saturday said its investigation into the whereabouts of documents for 29 boxes of ballots has hit a stumbling block because several Deputy Returning Officers who worked from Ogle to Lusignan did not turn up for a meeting with the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield.

The Deputy Returning Officers, according to GECOM, had promised to meet with Lowenfield at 4 PM Saturday but “no DRO showed up to be interviewed.” The next step, GECOM said, is to contact he Presiding Officers who were responsible for the respective polling stations.

The Commission said the Statements of Recount prepared for those ballot boxes “should not be included in the tabulation at this point in time.” At the conclusion of a Commission meeting, GECOM said 28 of the 29 Statements of Recount were already tabulated.

“The tabulation supervisor was advised to highlight those figures during the livestream on the ongoing tabulation for Region 4 pending a decision of the Commission,” the commission said..

GECOM says the poll bags have been checked but the documents were not found but they have not given up on the search. “In light of this development, the Commission is making every effort to ascertain the whereabouts of the documents so that the objections in relation to the boxes with missing documents could be resolved expeditiously,” the election management agency said.

Contrary to claims by a Deputy Returning Officer, Paul Jaisingh, GECOM says the Chief Elections Officer does not have those documents.

And a group of DROs who were responsible for clusters of Polling Stations on the East Coast of Demerara, have signed a statement to GECOM’s Secretariat, refuting allegations that the Clerk to the Region 4 Returning Officer, Ms. Carolyn Duncan instructed them to advise the Presiding Officers to not include the official documents in the ballot boxes at the close of poll.

“This statement refutes an article being circulated on social media which emanated from an email sent to the Guyana Elections Commission by another DRO, Mr. Paul Jaisingh. The DROs explained in their statement that they were advised by Ms. Duncan to ‘make regular checks to all stations ensuring that there was a smooth flow. In case of an emergency or any difficulty encountered, DROs were to make contact with Ms. Duncan,'”  GECOM said.

The DROs claimed that they were also instructed to remind Pos to ensure all statutory documents were in the ballot boxes before they were sealed.

In that regard,GECOM reminded the public that  in preparation for the conduct of General and Regional Elections 2020, all staff were adequately trained in accordance with the legal requirements and procedures to be followed.