One of the 789 ballot boxes processed to date …POs in OLE mix up called in to explain AT the close of operations at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) on Wednesday, votes from 71 ballot boxes had been recounted, taking the total number of ballot boxes processed to date to 789. There is a total of 2, 339 ballot boxes to be processed.
Wednesday marked 15 days since the recount of votes cast at the March 2 General and Regional Elections Commission commenced. Of the 71 ballot boxes processed on Wednesday, 18 were from Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara), 14 from Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica), 20 from Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) and six from Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni).
Once a ballot box is completely processed at the level of a workstation, a Statement of Recount (SOR) is generated. According to GECOM’s Public Relations Officer, Yolanda Ward, at the end of Wednesday’s operations 732 SORs for the General Elections had been tabulated, and 756 for the Regional Elections. Already, the SORs from Regions One and Two have been completed.
While the Elections Commission works with the National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF) to speed up the recounting exercise, it continues to resolve a number of other issues emanating from workstations.
POS CALLED IN FOR QUESTIONING On Monday, two ballot boxes were discovered with the incorrect Official List of Electors (OLEs). The boxes were from two separate polling places at the Diamond Nursery School, and to ascertain how the mix-up might have occurred, the Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield, called in the Presiding Officers for questioning. However, only one of the two POs has met with Chief Elections Officer. “There was a meeting in that regard; however, we yet to meet with the other presiding officer, and until such time, we will communicate the findings of those discussions at a later time,” the Public Relations Officer told reporters on Wednesday.
According to her, the other Presiding Officer, when contacted, gave a commitment to meet with the CEO. However, she was unable to indicate when that meeting would be held. Due to the grave irregularity, the two boxes were returned to the Containers.
UNSTAMPED AND PARTIALLY STAMPED BALLOTS Another issue engaging the Elections Commission and its Secretariat is that of unstamped and partially stamped ballots. In recent days, the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) has been complaining bitterly that ballots marked in its favour were not stamped and as such deemed rejected. There were also reports that a number of the ballots from the Joint Services were also unstamped.
A ballot being counted at one of the 12 workstations that have been established at the Conference Centre Elections Commissioner Vincent Alexander, during an interview outside of the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, told reporters that the issue of unstamped and partially stamped ballots was actively engaging the attention of the Elections Commission. “There seems to be the emerging view that recognition has to be given to the half that is not stamped on condition that there is synergy between the stamped and the unstamped. In other words, it is the same number of ballots,” Alexander said while referencing to cases in which the ballot paper was stamped on one half only.
“In a similar manner, there is an emerging consensus that in the instance where you can identify the Discipline Services ballots, which were intermixed but not stamped, that those be equally recognized as valid votes,” the Elections Commissioner further detailed. During the initial counting of the unstamped and partially stamped ballots following the close of polls on March 2, those ballots were deemed invalid in keeping with the letter of the law. Alexander, while dismissing that the proposed remedy is outside of the law, suggested that it is in keeping with the spirit of the Law.
OBJECTIONS While GECOM’s Public Relations Officer has underscored the importance for objections to be recorded in the Observation Report throughout the recount, Elections Commissioner Sase Gunraj vehemently objected to such on Wednesday.
The APNU+AFC has filed a number of objections based on anomalies cited such as the alleged voting of the dead and persons who have long migrated, in addition to unsigned Affidavits. But Gunraj, on Wednesday, iterated that these are matters for the Courts, while contending that no evidence has been submitted to date. “Every day it gets more and more ridiculous. Every day it gets more and more ridiculous and like I said, nothing is being presented to Commission or in the stations,” he told reporters. However, hours after his interview with the press, Ward confirmed that the APNU+AFC has submitted death certificates and other records in support of its claims at the level of the workstations.
LINK ORIGINAL: Guyana Chronicle