GECOM yields to APNU+AFC request for more info on absent voters to be sent for verification

Last Updated on Wednesday, 28 September 2022, 17:22 by Denis Chabrol

Retired Justice of Appeal, Claudette Singh.

Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Retired Justice Claudette Singh on Wednesday told Election Commissioners that she has handed over more names of persons who the opposition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) said were either dead or absent from Guyana on voting day- March 2, 2020.

“Please be advised that I have dispatched the documents in respect of the claims made in relation persons who are alleged to have voted on March 2, 2020, being either deceased or out of the jurisdiction, to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Office of the Commissioner of Police respectively, for the purpose of verification,” she told the Commissioners in a correspondence seen by Demerara Waves Online News.

APNU+AFC had dispatched a request on September 20, 2022 after, according to APNU+AFC Election Commissioner Vincent Alexander, the coalition realised that not all of the information that was in the possession of  GECOM was sent to the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall. Mr Nandlall had asked the GECOM Chairman for the information so that investigators could ascertain their authenticity and who instructed that those documents be prepared. “I don’t remember the number but it’s a greater number than the previous set,” Mr Alexander said. He said the GECOM Chairman reasoned that the second set of names was not sent with the first because they were for a petition, despite him continuing to press the need for an internal investigation to ascertain whether the “system has faults.”

Meanwhile, GECOM said the list of names was received from APNU+AFC during the national vote recount and sent to the Registrar General and Chief Immigration Officer  for verification, but GECOM could not have taken further action or it would have violated Article 163 of Guyana’s Constitution that states that only the High Court can exclusively determine either generally or in a particular place am election has been unlawfully conducted or the election result might have been affected by any lawful act or omission.

That election management agency reiterated that it could not conduct internal investigations into allegations of electoral fraud that were reported to have occurred in the 2020 elections.

According to the Commission, APNU+AFC should have filed an election petition. “The fact that the national recount had established that more votes were cast in favour of the People’s Progressive Party / Civic (PPP/C), the onus was on the APNU+AFC to file an election petition to determine the validity of the allegations of unlawful acts such as voter impersonation,” that election management body said.

Mr Alexander indicated that he opposed the People’s Progressive Party election commissioner’s position that they should not be sent because that was for a petition.

The People’s National Congress Reform-led APNU+AFC coalition continues to maintain that the bloated voters list and the absence of a biometric system at polling stations allow for substitute voting in the names of deceased persons and others who are overseas.

But the PPP continues to discard opposition calls for a clean voters list, saying that there are sufficient checks and balances to prevent election fraud. The governing party has been also saying that those are the same systems  and list that were used in the 2015 elections that APNU+AFC won.