Guyana’s Office charged with responsibility to conduct elections (Gecom) is definitely broken. People voted, polls closed at 6:00 pm Monday – and as of writing this yesterday, still no result had been announced.
Let us assume (reasonably) counting of a few hundred, or even a few thousand paper ballots takes a maximum of an hour to tally and record. Votes won by each party are then called in via phone and/or sent by text messages to a Returning Officer (RO), who then tallies up the numbers of all polling stations of his/her region. These numbers are than called in to Gecom Headquarters.
One hour to count and call into Regional ROs; another hour to tally up at Regional level and call into Gecom Headquarters in Georgetown. So, at 8:00 pm Headquarters should have the numbers from all 10 regions.
Gecom Headquarters now have four hours till the midnight hour to tally up the numbers from ten regions – prepare the tables showing votes won by each party etc. – and announce the results to the nation.
What is so difficult about what I have just outlined? Hard copy Statements of Poll (SOPs) whenever they arrive can only do one thing: confirm the numbers that have already been called in and recorded.
There should be no reason why votes of just about 400,000 people cannot be counted and tallied – and announced by the midnight hour on the day of polling. Guyana is proving that it is a sick society at too many levels.
Pundits tell me results cannot be announced until hardcopy SOPs are received in Georgetown from hinterland areas. If that takes three days or one week, so be it. That is absolutely crazy. Presiding Officers and ROs must be professional and trained folks, sworn to perform a job under penalty of law. I have read of one RO who suddenly complained of tiredness – and went home. And, worse there is no deputy to take over and complete the job. So, the whole country had to be waiting and wondering what was going on.
Guyana is an awful country – to say the least offensive thing of the place of my birth.
Meanwhile, I have been advised that party scrutineers at each polling station know the number of votes each party won – these numbers have been reported to their party headquarters. They have done their own tallying – and both major parties know who won the elections. I have been further advised that these numbers have also been reported to all the Western Embassies in Georgetown. So, we have a situation where the diplomats in Georgetown know the results of Guyana’s national elections – but the Guyanese people themselves don’t know.
The situation I have just described makes Guyana a broken country. It is my fervent hope that the liberal democracies – ABC and EU countries – will play an enlightened role to help Guyana become a country where the Rule of Law takes hold – and become a force for developing a stable democracy.