Claims of irregularities in the electoral process following the close of polls were more pronounced yesterday than any day before. The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is openly being accused of trying to steal or rig Guyana’s 2020 general and regional elections. Several parties have come forward saying that their observations show blatant inflation of the votes recorded on the statements of poll in favour of the incumbent, A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC).
While the returning officer, by direction of the Chief Justice’s ruling on Wednesday, has no obligation to verify his statements of poll against those of the parties, discrepancies observed between those of all the parties and the statements of poll in GECOM’s possession were so pronounced that international and local observers have held one view that the process, as it is currently playing out at GECOM, will not produce a credible result.
Take the comments of Nigel Hinds of Change Guyana, for instance, who spoke with media operatives after exiting the Ashmin’s Building where GECOM’s returning officer Clairmont Mingo was once stationed.
He said that what was observed during the tabulation process constituted an “open hijack of the elections process”.
Hinds walked out of the Hadfield Street GECOM centre shortly after the American, British, Canadian and European Union Diplomatic Representatives had also left, out of concern for the integrity of the tabulation process.
Hinds told the media that Mingo was using inflated statements of poll that boosted votes for the APNU+AFC coalition. He said that the party’s votes were the singular variant on each statement, which were doubled or tripled in many instances.
“They were inflated significantly…so what you have here is an open attempt to destroy and denigrate the fledgling democracy.”
The Liberty and Justice Party (LJP) presidential candidate, Lenox Shuman approached media operatives last night after yet another contentious tabulation process at GECOM’s Kingston headquarters, where Mingo’s office was moved.
He said that what transpired “should disturb us all”. He said that there were clear indications that the numbers on the sheets shown to the observers and party agents were altered.
“In some instances, the numbers on the sheet represented more than the voters that were present; all of those in favour of the incumbent.”
“The figures were very clearly manipulated, which does not give us the confidence in the integrity of those.”
“I think that the country is not going to see a fair, transparent nor legitimate outcome from region four.”
Shuman explained that the officials entitled to witness the count did not have a view of the security features, such as the serial number and necessary signatures, that were supposed to be present on the scans of the statements of poll. He said that he believes that in itself is in contravention of the Chief Justice’s ruling.
Shuman said that his party has already prepared two requests for a total recount. He said that that would allow them to, in addition to counting the ballots, see the statements of poll that were locked into the ballot boxes.
Presidential candidate for The Citizenship Initiative (TCI), Rhonda-Ann Lam has been an avid reporter of what was going on in the command centre, despite GECOM’s attempts to close the centre off from public view by, for example, banning the use of all electronic devices.
Like Shuman, Lam also raised the issue of the security features on the statements of poll not being displayed. She said that they were unable to examine the statements. Party representatives, she said, asked to see the features, but they were refused. Even before today, Lam has been reporting repeatedly that the numbers presented by GECOM have been altered.
In a brief Whatsapp conversation with a Kaieteur News reporter, Lam said that the numbers altered for APNU+AFC appear higher than the data she has gathered from statements of poll published outside of the polling stations, while the numbers for the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) appear to be lower.
Several members of the PPP have also reported repeatedly that the numbers coming from the tabulation process occurring are from – in PPP general secretary, Bharrat Jagdeo’s words – “fictitious statements of polls”.
The main opposition party has been in agreement with the international observers to the process, as well as the United Kingdom, United States, Canada and European Union, that the process as it is being employed by GECOM will not a produce credible result.
Jonathan Yearwood of A New and United Guyana (ANUG) had been observing the process up until he was removed by police from the Kingston centre after an altercation with an APNU+AFC representative. When contacted by Kaieteur News, Yearwood referred to a Facebook post he made yesterday which states that GECOM is conducting a massive fraud in the region four count.
“Every SOP has 50 to 100 votes added to the APNU+AFC and 20 to 30 votes subtracted from the PPP/C,” Yearwood said. A video circulating shows that Yearwood was raising these and other concerns about the tabulation process up to the moment he was removed from the centre.
Kaieteur News managed to procure comments from Commissioners nominated by both the Opposition and the Government.
Commissioner Sase Gunraj spoke with reporters outside of the Kingston office yesterday, explaining to the media similarly as the above comments, that there were striking alterations to the figures on the statements of poll, and that there were concerns about the validity of the some of the statements presented.
Commissioner Vincent Alexander spoke to reporters outside of the GECOM centre last night. He could not provide answers about the discrepancies raised by others, for he said that he had only recently arrived. At the time, several hours had already passed since the beginning of the process there.
However, Alexander said that his understanding of the process is that the concerned parties should make a note of their concerns, but that the returning officer would have no obligation at that stage to pay heed to those obligations. This was expressed by the Chief Justice in her ruling.
Alexander said that the concerns would have to be raised through a request for a recount.