GECOM finalises recount order and work plan
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has finalised its work plan and the legal order which will govern the national recount of all votes cast on March 2, 2020; the date for the start of the recount will be announced once the high-level CARICOM team which will serve as the main observers indicate how soon they can travel here.
GECOM Commissioner Vincent Alexander said the Chairman of GECOM, Justice (retired) Claudette Singh has been engaging CARICOM. He believes now that the order has been completed, the regional body will be in a better position to respond.
The Commissioner said if CARICOM is unable to get its representatives into Guyana, they can utilise officials based at the Secretariat located in Greater Georgetown.
At the statutory meeting on Friday, the Commission decided on 25 days for the recount but this will be reviewed after the first week based on the pace of work.
The 25 days was proposed by the Chairman of the Commission but Opposition nominated Commissioners have proposed a 14-day timeline for the process.
The Commission has decided on 10 recount stations
Alexander said three of those stations will be dedicated to Region Four which had the largest voting district and the most contentious results.
Three stations will be given for ballots from Region Three, two for Region Two and two for Region One at the start of the process.
There will be fourteen persons at each station including political party agents, members of CARICOM, electoral observers and staff of GECOM.
Alexander explained that there is a three-tier approach to dealing with disputes which will be entail approaching the supervisor for each work station, followed by the Chief Elections Officer and if no resolution is met, the matter will proceed to the Commission.
“Matters will have to be treated with urgently,” he said.
Several motions were brought before the Commission on Friday. One of those motions advocated for the process to be live-streamed but this was refused by the Chairman.
PPP nominated Commissioner Sase Gunraj who advocated for the process to be live-streamed, argued that while the law specifies the need to protect the secrecy of the ballots, this does not apply to a recount.
He said given the fact that Statements of Poll were already made public after the elections on March 2, there is nothing barring the process from being live-streamed.
However, it was decided that the results from each ballot box will be broadcast at intervals.
Gunraj disclosed that a motion seeking to bar the staff of GECOM who were involved in controversies and court actions after the March 2 poll from being a part of the process was also tabled.
In this instance, GECOM has decided that the Returning Officers will have no role to play in the recount.
The Returning Officer for Region Four Clairmont Mingo was the respondent in court proceedings seeking to challenge the method used by him to tabulate results in the largest voting district.
The Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield was also named as a respondent but he will be a part of the recount as he is the head of the GECOM secretariat.
Another motion was brought asking the Commission to set aside the declarations made by the ten Returning Officers following March 2 but the Chairman decided that this will only be done after the recount of that region’s vote where the new numbers will replace the old ones.