Lowenfield proposes 156 days for recount

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The Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield on Wednesday presented a draft plan which includes 156 days to conduct a national recount of votes cast on March 2, 2020.

The Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Justice (rtd) Claudette Singh met with Commissioners and the Chief Elections Officer Wednesday morning where he presented the draft plan.

Following the meeting, three of the Commissioners did not want to reveal to the media the full details of the plan.

“There are all kinds of reasons being proffered, none of them practical in documentation which can be interpreted in such a way…fundamentally in no way, shape or form should we be presented with a document which gives that timeframe,” said GECOM Commissioner Robeson Benn.

But Commissioner Vincent Alexander said, “the man [Lowenfield] did not pick 156 out of the air, he would have had some basis to arrive [at that].”

Alexander explained that the CEO determined that it will take two hours to count the ballots in one box. The Commissioner said it does not take less than two hours to count the votes at one polling station following elections day.

GECOM Commissioner Vincent Alexander

The Commissioners met for two hours to discuss the plan but many issues were raised and they have since adjourned the meeting to Thursday at 09:00hrs where they will respond to the

Commissioner Sase Gunraj who requested the adjournment to “rework the document” said the proposal “is untenable…this nation cannot survive 156 days wait.”

“This has to be done in a matter of days, this country has waited long enough,” Gunraj said.

“We counted an entire nation in one night,” he added.

Gunraj is hopeful that when the Commission meets again, it can derive a workable document to be executed by the agency.

Sase Gunraj, GECOM Commissioner

There were several proposals from the Commissioners relating to the use of the same Returning Officers and the use of Statements of Poll among others. The Commission has not yet addressed these concerns.

Guyanese cast their vote for a Government of their choice on March 2, 2020. Following the contention surrounding the tabulation of votes in Region Four and subsequent court challenges, the results of the elections are yet to be declared.

At the invitation of President David Granger, a team of Caribbean Prime Ministers, including Dr Rowley, led by CARICOM Chairman and Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley visited Guyana last month to broker an agreement between President Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo for a CARICOM team to supervise that recount.

That agreement resulted in the signing of an aide-memoire which details CARICOM’s role.

The recount was blocked by an injunction but the Full court has thrown out that injunction. The Appeal Court has since upheld the Full Court’s decision but said CARICOM cannot takeover the supervisory roll from GECOM.

With nothing stopping the recount, GECOM Chairman Justice retired Claudette Singh has decided that the agency will conduct a recount of all votes cast.

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