Last Updated on Sunday, 12 July 2020, 16:41 by Writer
The Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield on Saturday submitted a report after 11am based on the 10 declarations that were held in abeyance, and the People’s Progressive Party’s (PPP) election commissioners say they are inaccurate and do not reflect data from the recounted votes.
This report came one day after Mr Lowenfield suggested that it would contradict the Caribbean Court of Justice’s (CCJ) ruling to use the recount data because they were not done under the hand of the Returning Officers and counting agents.
“That report does not contain the correct numbers as was generated by the recount exercise and those numbers, I have not checked them in detail, but I can tell you definitively, they do not generate the numbers that were generated by the recount exercise,” pro-PPP Commissioner, Sase Gunraj said.
The submission of the report based on the 10 declarations dating back to March includes the one from Region Four that show bloated figures in favour of A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) with 136,057 votes and 77,231 for the PPP.
The recounted votes show that APNU+AFC got 116,941 and the PPP 80,920. That was the only region whose votes were called into major question by the PPP and all international and regional observers.
The results that Mr Lowenfield submitted on Saturday increases the number of valid votes cast to 475,118 instead of the 460,352 votes that were recounted and certified as valid. In his latest report, David Granger’s APNU+AFC got 33 seats, the PPP 31 and the three joinder parties 1 seat.
The recounted votes gave the PPP a one-seat majority in the 65-seat National Assembly.
“The CEO eyepass (disrespect) this commission,” Gunraj said.
Saturday’s Commission meeting was not held as there was no quorum because the three pro-coalition election commissioners have not turned up for the meeting. The governing coalition’s stance is almost identical to concerns raised by the Chief Elections Officer in a letter to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chairperson, Justice Claudette Singh.
Noting that Mr. Lowenfield’s report is a “very clear and flagrant violation of the specific instructions” contained in two letters to him by the GECOM Chairperson Singh that he must use the recounted, certified and valid votes that were cast on March 2, 2020, Gunraj said the Commission has constitutional options open to it to use the correct figures from the recount. “The commission is already in possession of numbers officially from the recount exercise and that is as far as I can say.”
The international community has repeatedly called on GECOM to use the recount data to declare the final results. However, the Chief Elections Officer, in a letter accompanying his report, said he was performing his constitutional duty to advise Chairperson Singh of the results to be used. “It is my understanding that Article 177(2)(b) of the Constitution affords the technical officer the right to advise the Chairman of the elections results that ought to be declared. In this regard, I have prepared and submitted the results of the General and Regional elections in accordance with my statutory and constitutional duties and all applicable laws,” he told the GECOM Chairperson.
On Friday, pro-coalition Elections Commissioner, Vincent Alexander said the CCJ ruling essentially scrapped the recount order that provided for the reconciliation of votes cast with voters’ lists, counterfoils, stubs and other statutory material to ensure credibility of the votes cast. Mr Alexander said that the recount exercise had allowed for the exclusion and inclusion of votes as the commission had seen fit.
The CCJ said the order could not have been used to amend the constitution and that to have “more votes” means “more valid votes” because “valid” is repeatedly defined in the Representation of the People Act. Further, the court stated that after a winner is declared any aggrieved party can file an election petition in the High Court to address issues such as alleged voter fraud and irregularities.