Missing documents from some ballot boxes with Mingo or Lowenfield

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The District Four Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo or the Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield likely has the documents that are missing from some ballot boxes on the East Coast of Demerara.

The missing documents have been noted during the national vote recount which could be wrapped up on Sunday or Monday.

The issue of the missing documents has been used by the Coalition APNU+AFC to say that the votes from those boxes cannot be validated and that was noted and written on some of the observation reports during the recount.

As a result, the Statements of Recount from those boxes have not been tabulated and the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) must decide what will happen.

The missing documents include the list of voters for each polling station. Once a person voted, a tick would have been placed on the left side of the serial number matching their name.

Another missing document from some of the boxes is what is called the counterfoil. The ballot paper came with two portions with a perforation so that when the ballot paper was torn off, a section remained; that remaining section is called the counterfoil.

This is much the same like how for some cheque books you tear off the cheque and a small portion remains at the end where you can record whatever detail you want, such as the cheque number and the amount and other details on it if you wish so that when you go back to the cheque book you would know how many cheques were written and to whom they were given to.

The counterfoil would have your serial number on it. But the part that was given to you, the actual ballot paper you used to vote, has no identifying mark so no one could tell who you voted for.

So at the end of the count at each polling station, the amount of counterfoils in any ballot box should have been equal to the total amount of ballots cast, whether the ballot was regarded as valid or whether it was spoilt or rejected for whatever the reason.

There are other documents that are missing from some ballot boxes.

Once the voting was completed at every polling station, the Presiding Officer should have placed all the documents in the ballot box and seal it.

The sealed ballot box goes to the Returning Officer and it then goes to the GECOM Secretariat, manned by Lowenfield.

Now, why would some of the documents be missing from some of the ballot boxes?

Paul Jaisingh, one of the Deputy Returning Officers for District Four has written to the Chair of the Guyana Elections Commission on the issue. He was responsible for polling stations at the Chateau Margot Primary School, East Coast Demerara.

He said that instructions were given by one Carlyn Duncan (Clerk to the Returning Officer Mr Clairmont Mingo-District # 4) to include only unused, valid and rejected ballots in the ballot boxes.

“This was communicated to the respective Presiding Officers who complied. As a result, the other documents were placed in the bag provided.

“This instruction was given on Election day a few hours before the close of the poll.

“Other Deputy Returning Officers affected by this decision can confirm the same,” Jaisingh stated.

All the President Officers were instructed to put in the ballot box envelopes containing the ballots cast for each party (so there were separate envelopes with PPP votes, APNU+AFC votes, etc.) and another envelope containing rejected ballots.

All of these went into the ballot box and it was then sealed.

The Presiding Officers were to keep the sealed ballot box in a safe place until it was delivered to the Deputy Returning Officer/Returning Officer.

The Poll Books were not included in the sealed ballot box and would have been placed in an envelope and handed to the Returning Officer when the ballot box was discovered.

The Poll Book is really a form on which the Presiding Officer at each polling station records certain observations. For example: (1) if a person shows up without and ID card and takes an Oath of Identity to be allowed to vote;

(2) if a blind or incapacitated person shows up to vote;

(3) if someone shows up to vote and was refused a ballot paper to vote;

(4) if someone provides a Certificate of Employment to vote outside of the area they are registered to vote because of their work (e.g. some GECOM staff had to use this because they may have been working outside the area they were registered to vote.

Nyall Jodhan, of The Citizenship Initiative, has written about the issue on his Facebook page.

“…it would be interesting to know: how much experience, and how much training, did these PO’s have? It is the responsibility of the Returning Officer (the same Mingo) to assist the Training Officers in the training of election day officials, including the POs.”

Jodhan added: “Also, with all the polling stations reductions and changes, there quite possibly may have had personnel changes in GECOM officials.

“This again, will raise the questions of: how much experience, and/or training, did these officials receive? How well were they instructed in what was required of them? For instance, were they precisely instructed which documents have to go into the ballot boxes? Or did they just think only the ballots used to vote should be there? And then packed the other material into the envelope containing the Poll Book to send back to the RO?

“Did they do this, and the RO, yes, the Mingo, notice and recognise an opportunity for potential mayhem and put these materials aside, just like he did the SoPs (Statements of Poll) as a backup plan?”

An SOP was produced once the count was completed at every polling station. Mingo has not shown all of his, and the copies which he gave to the Chief Elections Officer have also not been made public.

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