Recount Station No. 9 for Reg. 4 stops recount two hours early
Recount Station No. 9, which is one of the work stations assigned to counting ballots for Guyana’s largest voting district – Region Four – ceased counting votes at 5 pm Wednesday – two hours before the process was scheduled to conclude.
This did not find favour with Executive Member of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Anil Nandlall who has since lodged complaints with the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Justice (rt’d) Claudette Singh and the Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield.
“Station Number Nine counting Region 4 ballots have closed operations already, two hours before today’s scheduled closure…and that is totally unacceptable.
“I am also told that Ms Carol Joseph who is also part of that station, she indicated that she has to travel all the way to West Coast Berbice and she requested that the operations close prematurely. That is totally unacceptable,” Nandlall told the media outside the Arthur Chung Conference Center where the recount is taking place.
But APNU+AFC nominated GECOM Commissioner Vincent Alexander subsequently explained that security of the ballot boxes is of utmost importance and it is imperative for a ballot box to be completely counted before another one is open.
As such, he noted that if a ballot box for Region Four is opened just before the 8pm deadline, then it will be impossible to finish counting that box and GECOM does not want any ballot box to be left open.
“If we start with a box of 400 people if will go beyond the stipulated time…
“GECOM cannot leave anything to chance. We are not going to cut a seal and leave that seal unattended,” Alexander explained.
Meanwhile, both Nandlall and Alexander spoke about the slothful pace of the recount Wednesday.
As a matter of fact, at 5pm, only ten of the 2,339 ballot boxes were counted.
“We are coming to the end of the first day and we have just concluded ten boxes. Another one or two maybe completed before the close of the day. And that in my view and in the view of the population must be unsatisfactory.
“We expected the pace to be much more rapid than this because we have an end that we’re looking at and if it continues like that, it’s going to be a very very protracted exercise,” Nandlall said.
Subsequently, at around 6:30pm, a total of 22 ballot boxes were counted on day one of the recount process.
A number of issues were raised by party agents during the recount process but some were “satisfactorily” rectified, Nandlall noted.
As such, the PPP has since requested from GECOM a summary of the issues raised Wednesday and the decisions made to rectify them so that on day two of the recount the rotation staff of GECOM and party agents will be guided accordingly.
The Commission is also dealing with the issue of missing poll books from the ballot boxes, specifically from the hinterland regions.
The poll books would have records of incidents at polling stations; for example, if a voters’ name is inserted on the voters list then that book would have to detail why that was done.
Alexander said GECOM is also dealing with breach of privacy of its staff at the recount stations.