Immigration tells GECOM Chair 172 persons not in country on elections day, but no evidence they were marked off as voted
The country’s immigration authorities have told Justice (rt’d) Claudette Singh, Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), that 172 of the persons she inquired about were not in the country on elections day, March 02. However, if the names of those persons were not marked off as having voted, then the information would be useless.
Parties have accused the incumbent APNU+AFC of going on a wild fishing expedition and Justice Singh is biting the bait.
Justice Singh had written the Commissioner of Police Leslie James on Friday, May 22, 2020, asking him to check on the list of names she said APNU+AFC had claimed were out of the country and had voted; she provided the Commissioner, who is the country’s Chief Immigration Officer, with the respective polling divisions and stations where those persons may have been marked off as having voted. Two days after the weekend, on May 27, the Commissioner wrote back.
Political parties say the list of the names from APNU+AFC actually originated with immigration authorities who would know the departure and arrival dates of persons.
A list of names was drawn up of people who were out of the country on elections day and supplied to APNU+AFC. The Coalition then sent that list to the GECOM Chairman with its claims, and she then sent that list to the Police Commissioner, who quickly confirmed the information she was requesting.
There is no indication that the names of those persons were crossed off as having voted and Justice Singh has not engaged the media and efforts by the News Room to contact her proved futile.
It is unclear if Justice Singh will now have GECOM agents re-examine the lists from polling stations and verify if the names sent back to her by immigration authorities were crossed off as having voted.
Most of the names agents of APNU+AFC have been calling out wildly as being out of the country or dead on elections day, were not marked off as having voted, so the objections are of no consequence.
In other cases where the names objected to were actually marked off as having voted, persons have come forward to say they were in fact alive or in Guyana and did indeed vote on March 02.
In any case, former Speaker of the National Assembly Ralph Ramkarran, who had argued in an elections petition case in front of Justice Singh, has said that objections being raised by APNU+AFC belong to an elections petition and that GECOM has neither the mandate nor the power to collect evidence.
Parties have already accused GECOM of being in bed with APNU+AFC to manipulate the results of the elections and hand APNU+AFC a victory and that by entertaining the spurious claims of APNU+AFC, Justice Singh is playing into the plot to delay the announcement of the results of the current recount which could be wrapped up in the coming week.
Regarding the tabulation of votes, the country’s elections law at Chapter 89:2 says “the Returning Officer shall not open…marked copies of the official list of elections or part thereof or counterfoils of used ballot papers.”