ANUG, PPP reject claims of unstamped disciplined services ballots
Leaders of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and A New and United Guyana (ANUG) have rejected claims by the incumbent APNU+AFC that the votes cast by ranks of the disciplined services on February 21 were not counted because they did not have the six-digit GECOM stamp.
Chairman of ANUG Timothy Jonas on Saturday said a total of 2,600 ballots were rejected during the recount process thus far for varying reasons and this account for less than one per cent of the votes cast on March 2, 2020.
It is also three times less than the number of ranks –8,369 –who voted on February 21.
“I want to say to the Joint Services, this is not true…it is an outright lie intended to rile people up,” Jonas told reporters outside the Arthur Chung Conference Center where the recount is ongoing.
Jonas explained that in addition to some ballots missing the stamp others were not counted because persons voted for more than one party and in some instances, others wrote their name on the ballot paper.
“From my time counting in there, there are many more instances where you’re seeing two Xs, some people got Xs along all the party names or no Xs at all or you cannot identify from the location of the X who the person intended to vote for. There are many more ballots rejected for that reason than because there is no stamp,” he said.
Jonas further pointed out that there is no way to identify the disciplined services votes after they are intermixed with the others on elections day.
“From the time they are stamped and thrown in with the other ballots, they’re indistinguishable,” the ANUG Executive said.
Unofficial statistics show that a total of 2,673 ballots were rejected as of Friday.
Meanwhile, the Opposition People’s Progressive Party Prime Ministerial Candidate Brigadier (ret’d) Mark Phillips told reporters Saturday that less than 100 ballots were rejected due to the missing six-digit stamps.
The former Army Chief said: “I myself will like the know that the disciplined services votes are counted at any elections.”
“…As far as I am concerned, there is no evidence that their votes were not counted…there is no evidence to prove that any large amount of the disciplined services ballots were not stamped.”
GECOM silent on unstamped ballots
As a result of the claims made by the APNU+AFC, Public Relations Officer of GECOM Yolanda Ward recently confirmed that “during the recount, it was found that some stations where [the disciplined services ballots] were intermixed, a number of ballots were not stamped.”
The ballots for the Disciplined Services are not stamped on the day they vote but have to be stamped on Election Day at the polling stations selected in each region before they are intermixed.
However, she also pointed out that following the intermixing, there is no way to identify which ballots belong to the Disciplined Services (DS).
“The analogy was that those were possibly DS ballots that may not have been stamped before intermix.”
Despite a week of members of the media seeking clarification, Ward could not provide a total figure of how many ballots have been discovered unstamped during the recount process.
The PRO remains silent on the issue despite being pressed by the media.
As a result, requests have been made by members of the press for the Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield to host a press conference and provide much needed clarity on a number of issues given the fact that he is managing the recount process.
The last press conference held by GECOM was in March just a few days after the March 2 elections.