Original Statements of Poll, Recount now in Court’s possession
By Kurt Campbell
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on Wednesday handed over the original copies of all Statements of Poll (SOPs) and Statements of Recount (SORs) from the March 02, 2020 elections to the Registrar of the Supreme Court, Sueanna Lovell.
This is in keeping with an Order from Chief Justice (ag), Roxane George, SC, instructing GECOM and its Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield, to have the documents handed over before January 29, 2021.
Each SOP and SOR was being lodged and recorded individually; a tedious process that Lowenfield said he hoped could be completed before the end of the day.
“I’m handing over the Statements of Poll…that was forwarded to me during the process, that’s what I’m doing… and also the Statements of Recount,” Lowenfield told the media during a water break at the High Court in Georgetown.
Lowenfield said the law specifies that the records are kept by the Chief Elections Officer for a prescribed period, however, although that timeline has not expired, he was following the orders of the CJ.
There are a total of 2, 339 Statements of Polls (SOPs) and another 2, 339 Statements of Recount to be handed over to the court. Lowenfield said the GECOM Secretariat has made copies of the documents to keep for its records.
“I wouldn’t give away all that I have,” he added.
Lowenfield was present at the High Court Wednesday morning along with Chairman of GECOM, Justice (retired) Claudette Singh. Also present were GECOM Commissioners Sase Gunraj, Vincent Alexander and Desmond Trotman.
The Chief Justice made the order to allow for the safekeeping of the documents which will likely support arguments in the upcoming elections petition case. Justice George made the Order after dismissing the second elections petition (99/P) filed by the opposition A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) coalition while keeping the first petition (88/P).
The SOPs and SORs are expected to serve as evidence when the case is heard. The SORs also include observation reports, which the coalition said it intends to rely on to prove its case. But although it intends to use the observation reports from the recount, the coalition is still withholding its copies of Statements of Polls.
In March 2020, High Court Judge, Franklyn Holder, had refused an application made to him for GECOM to produce in court the SOPs for District Four, Guyana’s largest voting district, which was embroiled in controversy and led to a national recount of all votes cast and a five-month delay in announcing the real winner of the March 2 elections.
Having only served one term in office, the coalition lost the elections and claimed widespread voter fraud at the polls but refused to release their copies of the SOPs to prove its claims.
The recount figures show that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) won the elections by over 15,000 votes.