29 East Coast Demerara boxes to be tabulated; APNU+AFC, Elections Commissioner Alexander reject decision

Last Updated on Sunday, 7 June 2020, 16:10 by Denis Chabrol

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on Sunday decided to include the 29 boxes of ballots, which were not accompanied by supporting documents, in the tabulation, much to the disappointment of one pro-elections commissioner.

“The Commission has decided to include the SoRs (Statements of Recount) for the ballot boxes with missing documents in the tabulation exercise.

It was noted that the Commission does not intend to disenfranchise any elector,” GECOM spokeswoman, Yolanda Ward said.

The Commission said a probe into the missing documents would continue.

But Elections Commissioner, Vincent Alexander did not hide his concerns. “I think these things are sometimes down to power-play,” he said of the decision which GECOM Chairman, Retired Justice Claudette Singh said supported.

Alexander said he supports the position that no voter should be disenfranchised, but said he opted not recommend that a by-election be held in those villages. “One moves in stages. If no one is prepared to look for a solution beyond and only purporting one solution, then where is the space for my argument,” he said.

He sought to argue that the absence of the documents invalidates the ballots, a number of sources say amounted to about 5,000 votes.

Alexander flayed GECOM for rejecting 81 votes in Sophia because only halves were stamped, but accepting those on the East Coast Demerara which had no documents. “There is something wrong with how we are applying our principles,” he said. “We seem not to be a Commission that’s pursuing fairness and justice in relation to votes of voters . We seem to be a Commission that’s looking after interests,” he added.

But People’s Progressive Party (PPP) candidate, Attorneys-at-Law Charles Ramson said the votes could only be invalidated if they are forged or are not stamped.

“The distinction which Vincent Alexander claims his confusion over the GECOM majority decision to count the votes in ballot boxes which do not contain items like the OLE (Official List of Electors)  and the poll book verses the decision not to count ballots which do not contain the 6 digit stamp is that the requirement to have the 6 digit stamp in order for a vote to be valid is one made by law while the requirement to have items in the ballot box is operational and it’s absence does not make the votes in the ballot box invalid,” Ramson told News-Talk Radio Guyana 103.1 FM/ Demerara Waves Online News.

Meanwhile, A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change ( APNU+AFC) later Sunday said it was rejecting results from those 29 ballot boxes on the East Coast Demerara.

Describing the votes as “fraudulent,” APNU+AFC called on  “to publicly state the rationale behind this inexplicable decision.”

“APNU+AFC wishes to make it clear that we do not accept a tabulated vote as a credible vote since in the bundle of tabulated votes rests several votes which are fraudulent,” the coalition said.

The national recount of votes contained in the 2,339 boxes is expected to end on Sunday.

The next step is for the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield to compile his report based on the tabulations and observations if the seven-member Commission agrees that the data should be used by him. The Commission will then consider Lowenfield’s report and the report by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) scrutineer team before declaring a winner.

The Organisation of American States, United States, Britain, Canada and the European Union have all called for the recount results to be used to make a credible declaration and install a government.