With tabulation of the votes for Region Four from Monday’s polls mired in controversy, the opposition PPP/C yesterday secured an injunction prohibiting the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) or any of its functionaries from making a declaration of the total count unless there is full compliance with the law.
It provides that GECOM be restrained, either by itself, its servants and/or agents “from declaring the total number of valid votes of electors for each list of candidates” recorded in the March 2 general and regional elections.
The injunction was granted based on an oral application. Holladar and a battery of attorneys including Anil Nandlall have undertaken to file and serve the requisite written application within the next 72 hours.
Earlier yesterday afternoon, Mingo had begun the process of announcing the results for Region Four—the last of the results from polling in the ten electoral districts—but his attempts were drowned out by loud shouting by members of the opposition PPP/C and other political parties which contested the elections.
The injunction was served on the Commission subsequent to this.
Lowenfield, Mingo and the GECOM are listed as respondents in the action.
According to the injunction, the restraint is to remain in force “until and unless” Mingo and Chief Election Officer Keith Lowenfield comply with and ensure “the compliance of the process set out by the provision, letter and spirit” of Section 84 of the Representation of the People Act.
The section, which specifies the process for the counting of votes, prescribes, among things, that as soon as practicable after the receipt of all the ballot boxes and the envelopes and packets delivered to him in pursuance of Section 83 (10), the Returning Officer shall, in the presence of those legally entitled to be in attendance, ascertain the total votes cast in favour of each list in the district by adding up the votes recorded in favour of the list in accordance with the statements of poll (SOPs) and thereupon publicly declare the votes for each list of candidate.
Section 84 (1) (a) of the Act adds that where an election officer for a polling district discovers a material error on the SOP from a polling station for that polling district, he shall inform the presiding officer for that polling station forthwith, and the presiding officer, if the SOP has not yet been sent to the Returning Officer shall, in the presence of the persons who signed the original SOP, prepare a corrected one signed by himself and the original signatories present, and the corrected SOP shall be sent to the returning officer.
84 (1) (b) goes on to state that where a mistake is discovered when the SOP is in the possession of the Returning Officer, the presiding officer shall be informed of the mistake and the Returning Officer shall summon the presiding officer and the persons who signed the original SOP for the purpose of effecting the necessary correction of the SOP by the presiding officer in the presence of the other persons mentioned in the paragraph as stated.
Section 84 (3) further states that where any counting agent for the district requests a final count, he shall indicate whether he requests a general count or a limited count, and in the latter case shall specify the polling places in respect of which the final count is to be conducted and the Returning Officer shall conduct the count as requested.
84 (6) details that where a general final count is conducted, the Returning Officer shall review all used ballot papers, including rejected ballot papers, received from all polling places, and where he agrees with the decision of the presiding officer as regards any questioned or rejected ballot paper, he shall write the word “confirmed” at the back of the ballot paper and where he disagrees with the decision of any presiding officer as regards any such ballot paper, he shall write the word “varied” at the back of the ballot paper.
84 (11) details that upon ascertaining the votes cast in the district for each list of candidates in accordance with the preceding subsections, the returning officer shall communicate to the Chief Election Officer, by the quickest available means, the total number of valid votes cast in the district for each list of candidates.