Lowenfield says he is not bound by what GECOM, Commissioners tell him

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The country’s Chief Elections Officer Keith Lownefield on Friday said he is not bound by what the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) tells him to do, saying that he has carried out his constitutional duties.

“While the Commission makes certain policy decisions and provides guidance to the Chief Election Officer for implementation by the Secretariat, I have to execute my duties as a Constitutional Officer, particularly in the conduct of Elections,” Lowenfield said in a statement.

Lowenfield’s statement follows that of the Coalition APNU+AFC, the party he produced figures to allow them a victory.

The Chief Elections Officer is not a constitutional position, but rather a statutory one.

Lowenfield’s mandate does not include determining what votes are valid but he sought to do that in his latest report and in so doing dumped over 115,000 votes so his calculation could hand the Coalition a Parliamentary majority of 33 seats to form the government.

“The Representation of the People Act at Section 96 requires the Chief Election Officer (CEO) to ascertain the valid votes cast in an election.

To do so, what the law prescribes for Lowenfield to do is to collects the reports of the vote counts from the ten electoral districts, add them up and then produce a report that determines the amount of Parliamentary and Regional Democratic seats the respective parties would be entitled to.

Lowenfield’s statement to the press was specifically in reply to a Stabroek News editorial which cited him for insubordination because he ignored the clear instruction he was given by the Chair of GECOM, Justice Claudette Singh, to produce an election result based on the results of a national vote recount.

He said the contents of the Stabroek News article suggests that he must only act as the Commission instructs and flout the Constitutional requirements.

“At all times, I have acted in conformity with the laws and therefore my action cannot be ‘seen as clear act of insubordination’,” Lowenfield stated, calling the Stabroek News editorial ill-informed.

Lowenfield produced a report on Tuesday that was in stark contrast to the results of the recount which he signed off as valid.

Lowenfield’s Tuesday report gives the APNU+AFC Coalition a victory with 171,825 votes. However, the votes which were certified as valid during the recount and backed by a CARICOM team which scrutinized the process, showed a victory for the PPP.

In his first report, based on official figures from the recount, Lowenfield certified that there were 460, 352 valid votes. On Tuesday, he reduced that figure to 344, 508. That’s a difference of 115, 844.

Figures from the recount show APNU+AFC received 217, 920 votes, but in his report Tuesday, Lowenfield gave them 171, 825, a reduction of 46, 095.

Figures from the recount show that the PPP won the elections with 233, 336 votes, but Lowenfield reduced their figure to 166, 343. That’s a difference of 66, 993.

Figures from the recount show that together ANUG, LJP and TCM received 5, 214 votes. But Lowenfield reduced their combined votes to 3, 348, a difference of 1, 866.

The Stabroek News has called for Lownefield to be dismissed.

“No one who believes he can unilaterally choose who should be disenfranchised after their votes have been counted – and recounted – in accordance with all the relevant legal requirements should be allowed anywhere near a commission charged with overseeing a democratic election.

“…Mr Lowenfield has to go,” Friday’s editorial of the Stabroek News stated.

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