A complete recount, of ballots as well as SOPs could solve this problem

A complete recount, of ballots as well as SOPs could solve this problem

Dear Editor,

Ever since President David Granger had announced his invitation to CARICOM to supervise a full recount of all the ballot boxes used in the 2020 General and Regional Elections questions have been posed about the integrity and security of the ballot boxes which were stored in the GECOM compound in High Street, Kingston, and later moved to the Convention Centre, under guard by the Guyana Police Force. AS far as I am aware, the security arrangements for this election have not been altered from those of previous elections and have worked well in the past.

The ballot boxes are stored in 40-ft metal containers and secured by 3 heavy padlocks with keys held separately by GECOM, PPP/C and APNU+AFC and all 3 parties have to co-operate to open the containers containing the ballot boxes. Maybe those who entertain the idea of a breach of any container either through cutting the container or the padlocks, or otherwise compromising the locks, could explain how this could be done successfully without trace and without alerting the security guards.

Moreover, in order to gain access to the material in the ballot boxes at least 2 of the 4 coloured plastic seals which secure the ballot box and whose serial numbers were recorded by GECOM and the political parties attending and scrutinizing the packing of the ballot boxes, would have to be broken or removed and this would be noticed immediately. Replacing the tampered seals with seals of a different colour, make or serial number would also not escape notice and detection. Occasionally a seal would break during the moving and arranging of ballot boxes but rarely would two or more on the same box and on several boxes.

A scratch on a padlock or a few broken seals can occur naturally and do not represent evidence of tampering with ballot boxes. If one succeeded in penetrating any ballot boxes and tampered with its contents it would not be sufficient to add, remove or reassign ballots cast for individual parties but must also make corresponding adjustments to a range of records, not all of which are to be found in the ballot box.

In my opinion, the tampering with ballot boxes is extremely difficult to accomplish because of the many layers of security and it is duplicitous, disingenuous, desperate and distracting for any political party or GECOM Commissioner to suggest, and promote, such a narrative without a shred of evidence.

I appreciate that the likelihood of electoral fraud seems evident given the huge discrepancies in the polling data and that all parties cannot have an interest in a full and transparent recount of the ballots cast and the data used to compute the results and will likely seek to malign and throw suspicion on the integrity of the process.

The international community, almost without exception, has called for a total and transparent recount of all the ballots cast in the recently concluded elections (presumably the Statements of Poll used to compute the declared election returns as well) and the leaders of the two main political parties have agreed, and it remains for those responsible to facilitate this near universal expectation lawfully. Only a complete recount, of ballots as well as Statements of Poll, could definitely establish whether the Returning Officers of each District/Region used the Statements of Poll certified by the Presiding Officers to arrive at the declared results and whether they were accurately computed.

Oscar Dolphin

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