GECOM has no formal reports of skulduggery by Mingo – spokesperson
Despite a High Court ruling which clearly established that Clairmont Mingo, the Returning Officer for District Four breached the country’s electoral laws, the spokesperson of the country’s electoral body Sunday said there was no formal report by anyone of their objections to the process he used.
Chief Justice Roxane George on March 11 ruled that Mingo had breached the country’s electoral laws when he failed to display and use the numbers from the Statements of Poll from each polling station when doing a tabulation to determine the amount of votes cast for each party.
“While we have read a number of these matters being raised in the public domain…we (GECOM) have never received a formal objection from any stakeholder,” said Yolanda Ward, GECOM’s Public Relations Officer on Sunday.
“So until we are able to provide a clearer investigation based on some kind of evidence being brought before us, we will not be able to say what may have occurred or what may not have occurred,” Ward said when asked about the allegations of skulduggery against Mr Mingo.
Mr Mingo had only used the numbers from 421 of the 879 Statements of Poll he had in tabulating the results for District Four. After the process was bungled, Mingo resorted to using a spreadsheet with numbers he claimed he had derived from the Statements of Poll.
The European Union, which field a fully-fledged observer mission, had asked Mingo to see the Statements he used to input numbers on his spreadsheet; there was no response.
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), it’s Chair, Chief Elections Officer, and Mingo were all parties in the High Court case in which citizen Reeaz Hollader challenged the March 6 declaration of the vote count for District Four made by Mingo.
The Chief Justice had set aside his declaration and forced him back to the tabulation process. But even in that process was not credible, parties and observers claimed when Mingo made a second declaration on March 13.
The Private Sector Commission (PSC) had written the Chair of GECOM, Justice Claudette Singh, requesting the release of all Statements of Poll but she did not accede to this request.
The PSC claimed that the Statements used by Mingo in tabulating the results of the elections in Region Four were never established as authentic and were not verified in a transparent manner as directed by the Chief Justice. The Chair and the Commission would have a record of the PSC’s contentions.
In the November 2011 elections, when the credibility of the tabulation of the election results was questioned by APNU, GECOM voluntarily released the Statements of Poll to all parties.
Ward told reporters Sunday, that the Statements of Poll were the main documents used in the tabulation leading to the March 13 declaration. But she said neither for the original nor for the second declaration was formal objections or complaints made to GECOM and so there was none for them to consider.
Most parties, including international and local observers, had documented their concerns and these were widely published. The entire court case was also streamed lived.
“We are in a recount exercise, and as the Commission would have indicated, whatever is the outcome of this recount – the declarations of this recount – is what will replace those declarations, all those declarations,” Ward stated. The country has ten electoral districts.
“…we are in a recount exercise, so I would want to look at it going forward rather than going back on what may have been said in the public domain,” she added.
In her ruling, the Chief Justice said that it was saddening that 19 years after a similar case, she had to restate the words of then Chief Justice Desiree Bernard, that the role of GECOM is to take action to ensure impartiality, fairness and compliance with the law.
She said every effort must be made to ensure that everyone is satisfied that the process is fair and that confidence in the electoral process must be restored.