GECOM agrees to have tabulation of recount streamed live

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The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on Sunday agreed that the entire tabulation process of the recount of votes will be live streamed and the Chairman Justice (rt’d) Claudette Singh wants the ballot box shown to the public before it is opened.

How the process works is that after every single ballot box is counted, a Statement of Recount is produced and all the Statements then go to a center where they would be displayed on a screen and tabulated. That is the process the Chairman wants to be filmed and shown to the public as it happens.

The Chairman is also advocating for an audio feed of the entire recount process (before the Statements go to the Tabulation Centre), according to GECOM Commissioners Sase Gunraj and Vincent Alexander.

“At the point of tabulation, there will be streaming, broadcasting of the tabulated results. She also said that she would wish to see the ballot boxes when they’re out of the container, a picture is taken so that it is clear to the viewer that nobody tampered with the seals.

“In addition to that, she said she wishes to have an audio broadcast as the count proceeds and that is what she unequivocally said,” Alexander told the press at the end of the five-hour statutory meeting of the Commission at its Kingston, Georgetown Headquarters.

Alexander said there remains “insistence” for a visual stream at the place of count, that is at the ten stations where the votes from the individual ballot boxes will be counted.

The Chairman is expected to make an official decision on the way forward for the visual stream on Monday when the Commission meets again.

When the decision is made, the order for the recount to proceed will be gazetted and the starting date is set for Wednesday, May 6.

The contentious issue of live streaming the recount of all votes cast on March 2, 2020 was brought up by the Chairman at Sunday’s meeting following requests made by ten of the 11 political parties that contested the elections.

The incumbent APNU+AFC is opposed to the live streaming and actually wants GECOM to restrict the use of cell phones at the recount site – the Arthur Chung Conference Center.

The meeting on Sunday got relatively heated as reporters who were camped outside heard the loud shouting; it was later confirmed by Gunraj that the shouting had to do with the debate over the live streaming.

The News Room understands that the Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield, who was also part of the meeting, raised concerns about the live streaming.

Gunraj said he made it clear that live streaming the entire process will “inject credibility and transparency in this process…we have nothing to hide.

“Part of that vociferous discussion was me being adamant that GECOM has nothing and ought to have nothing to hide in this process.”

According to him, the Chairman had reservations as it relates to the identity of the person conducting the process

“… at the end of the day, all necessary transparent measures ought to be implemented,” he emphasised.

Gunraj explained that local and foreign observers remain invited since the electoral process has not yet concluded.

It is expected that the observers and party agents will be briefed by the Chief Elections Officer “in short order”, Gunraj noted.

Meanwhile, it was noted that the GECOM Chairman did not budge on the issue of counting four regions simultaneously.

Political parties, except the APNU+AFC, voiced concerns about this at Saturday’s stakeholders’ meeting with GECOM on the grounds that it will lead to confusion and suggested that each region is counted one at a time.

In relation to the objection raised by the PPP to open the envelopes to determine whether there were errors by the Presiding Officers during the elections, Chairman “insisted that the envelopes will be opened,” Gunraj told the press.

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