‘Keep calling’ – GECOM staff was told to continue using spreadsheet figures during District Four vote count
As the Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the March 2, 2020 General and Regional elections continued on Wednesday, Assistant Registration Officer of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Alexandria Bowman said that she was given the spreadsheet with botched figures during the tabulation and verification of the District Four vote.
And though there were numerous objections from some party agents that those spreadsheet figures were different from the votes on the Statements of Polls (SOPs). Bowman said she was instructed to keep calling the spreadsheet figures.
Bowman was present at the Ashmin’s Building in Georgetown during the District Four vote count.
When the District’s Returning Officer Claimont Mingo unceremoniously fell ill on March 4, stalling the vote count, Bowman said Mingo’s Clerk Michelle Miller told her to call the votes from a spreadsheet and not the SOPs.
Though she could not recall ever using spreadsheets in the official vote count, she complied.
Bowman also said that she was not in a position to verify whether the spreadsheet figures reflected the numbers on the SOPs.
And so she went about calling the numbers from that document.
The situation, however, intensified as PPP/C party agents strongly objected to the numbers she called. According to them, she recalled, those figures did not match the figures on their SOPs.
With a commotion ensuing, the Assistant Registration Officer was questioned why she did not stop the vote count. She answered that she did not stop because of instructions from Miller.
Miller’s specific instructions to her, she recalled, were: “Keep calling”.
Asked why she complied with those instructions, Bowman answered, “There was a lot of noise and I was seven months pregnant at the time and I just wanted to get it over with.”
That wasn’t the only startling revelation.
Bowman also disclosed that it was the former GECOM Information Technology (IT) staff Enrique Livan who downloaded the spreadsheet onto her personal flash drive and told her to use it.
“Apparently nobody could’ve provided a flash (so) I provided a flash and gave it to Mr. Livan and he went, he got the spreadsheet and he put it on the desktop that I was supposed to call from,” Bowman related.
Based on Guyana’s law, the tabulation and verification of votes must be done using the SOPs. In this instance, however, a spreadsheet that was not shared with party agents or observers was relied on.
The CoI previously heard that the then GECOM Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield told the agents and observers that this spreadsheet (referred to as a “broadsheet”) was being used “for expediency”.