All preparations on-stream for elections, results ‘as soon as possible’

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The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on Friday afternoon reported that all systems are in place for the smooth running of the elections process on Monday and the tallying of votes after, however, Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield who manages the Commission did not tie himself down to a date for the declaration of results thereafter.

Addressing the media at a press conference at the agency’s headquarters two days before the polls, Lowenfield said the Commission will commence deploying ballot boxes on Saturday morning to hinterland regions.

On Friday, he said the Presiding Officers have begun to count their ballot boxes and the contents of those boxes after which they will be secured.

Some will be “deployed in some instances [on Saturday] based on the geography and locations they have to go to…we’ll have movements across the spectrum by Presiding Officers and security ranks in some localities and on E-day itself, we will be deployed as early as 3am in some instances… to ensure that we’re there on time to commence voting.”

After citizens have cast their ballots, the Commission has agreed for there to be another layer of political party agents to accompany the Deputy Returning Officers to transport the Statements of Poll to the Returning officers.

This is one aspect of preparations which is being finalized.

According to the CEO, this was decided on to ensure transparency at all levels of the process.

GECOM sorting ballots after they arrived in Guyana on February 7

The count of the ballots begins after the close of polls on Monday. However, it can be many days before the official results are declared.

The Chief Elections Officer on Friday did not tie himself down to a date for the declaration of the results as he has no control over calls for full or partial recounts. As such, he said this will be done as soon as possible.

“The parties will make a determination based on the results whether in their best interest a recount or recounts are required.”

“That subset of the operations GECOM doesn’t have any control over so that is why we can only say as early as possible,” he added.

GECOM’s Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield

On polling day, however, Chairperson of GECOM, Justice (ret’d) Claudette Singh urged that there be no convergence around polling stations.

“Political parties should ask their supporters not to crowd the polling stations and not to be around…of course stay their 200 ft away and the night during the tabulation they should not crowd the polling station,” she noted.

The Commission, during this week, met with various parties including the Government and Opposition, elections observers and other agents as it prepares for the polls.

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