To date, the nationwide calls for the Guyana Elections Commission to produce the Statements of Poll (SOPs) for the General and Regional Elections held on March 02, 2020 have been futile. Our citizens have had to face the brutal rape of our constitutional rights by a band of daylight thieves situated inside and outside of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
The role and contemptuous behaviour of Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield et al in the rigging plot sought to disregard the evidence-based affirmation of the SOPs as the legal authority of the true results. The fact that a National Recount of the votes cast took place without the presentation of the original SOPs in the control of the Chief Elections Officer emphasises the eerie darkness of the plot, which was halted only by the remedies imposed by the international community.
This is because accountability, fairness, trust and constitutional commitment were long thrown through the window, while propaganda efforts were made to diminish the importance of this key document to their overzealous supporters. It is therefore significant and necessary that our people know about the process, value and importance of all SOPs.
Section 84 of The Representation of the People’s Act Cap. 1.08, addresses the procedures and authority of various persons within and external to the election machinery of GECOM. It empowers the steps to be followed in accounting for votes cast, with SOPs prepared by the respective presiding officers (POs) in every polling station/booth. At the end of polling, the respective presiding officers must immediately access all information that was obtained during the day, and place them in specific envelopes. This is done in full view of the polling agents/counting agents, and observers. The PO of each voting station is required to open the ballot box and sort the ballots cast. The counting of the ballots must take place with scrutiny, the presiding officer would go through the ballots and assort them for the counting.
The ballots are then counted and allotted to the respective List of Candidates, following which they are placed in envelopes in accordance with the amounts cast for each respective List of Candidates. The POs are then required to prepare the SOPs in accordance with the correct allocation to each List of Candidates, and to sign off the statement for each station, along with each polling agent and the observers at the respective location.
The PO will then give to each political party agent a copy of the SOP, and place a copy on the door or any other area outside of the office, where the public can have a look at the elections results.
The POs in the various clusters will then give his Statement of Poll to the respective Deputy Returning Officer (DROs). It must be recognized that, depending on the demographics of the electoral districts, DROs are assigned to work accounting for specific sets of SOPs within the ten specific Regions/Districts, and the submission of statements regarding same is assigned to Returning Officers in the ten Regions. Following the submissions, the ten Returning Officers MUST then immediately convene a meeting with the various political parties counting agents to do the verification count, determined by a reconciliation of the various authenticated SOPs.
After the verification count is conducted with political parties counting agents, the results along with the SOPs are then prepared and then sent to the Chief Elections Officer.
However, it must be noted that GECOM has a system in place for the Chief Elections Officer to receive copies of Statements of Poll directly from the field from certain areas.
In accordance with this GECOM process and system, all the political parties will use their respective structures to accumulate the results in the various districts. As a result, the political parties with their apparatus fully operational are able to reconcile and know the final results of the elections. It is because of the powerful party structure of the party the PPP and their wide representation across each district that the party was able to confirm their winning position at the 2020 National and Regional Elections. This is because they are now in a position to compare the votes gained by other participating parties that are authenticated and validated on the same copies of the SOPs signed and received by their agents in each of the stations.
It is a fact that the APNU/AFC, GECOM and the PPP/C had the identical Statements of Poll. To date, the APNU/AFC and GECOM failed to reveal the results of the signed Statements of Poll that were issued by GECOM on the night of 2nd March 2020, and the CEO has proven to be complicit in not using the original SOPs he received to determine the veracity of the falsification that was attempted by the RO of Region # 4 in his effort to change the results of the election and the will of the Guyanese people.
The facts and reality confirm that several staff members of GECOM were hell bent on rigging the elections. The elections results in nine of the ten Regions were accepted. However, great was the confusion that erupted when attempts to execute the rigging plan were attempted by dispelling the SOPs and use a concocted spread sheet’. It was quickly spotted by the ‘alert’ eyes of the PPP/C counting agents. It required the intervention of the courts and the widespread rejection by the international community to upturn the wicked concoction. And even at this point, the production of the SOPs collected by GECOM was not revealed as the basis for totally clarifying a true position.
Rather, RO Clairmont Mingo was allowed to deliberately spew his falsities in a report that did not satisfy the basic standards of verification and acceptability. Consequently, hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars were spent during the five months by GECOM as its Secretariat staff members and other APNU/AFC agents in the Commission were making every effort to facilitate rigging of the elections.
There is no doubt that a total loss of public confidence in the GECOM Secretariat’s control process abounds, countered only by the interventions to publicize the recount of the votes cast after the ballot boxes were continuously watched by the Opposition party agents.
GECOM must have a forensic audit of it finance and the elections process and elections results. It is imperative that our people in every region/district be comfortable with the GECOM staff, and particularly the election machinery must be transparent, accountable and fair, and those found to be inconsistent with this ethos must be held accountable and ejected forthwith.
The prosecution of many will take place, including the CEO, and prosecutors must call for the SOPs to be produced in the courts.