BY: DR LESLIE RAMSAMMY
At no point did the Statements of Poll (SOPs) lie. Every time, with no exception, between March 3 and March 5, the SOPs in possession of GECOM, APNU/AFC, the PPP and other parties when compared as part of a verification exercise to determine that GECOM was using the correct and authentic SOPs for tabulation, these SOPs had identical numbers of votes ascribed for each political party. The present controversy surrounding the bogus numbers for Region Four only materialised after GECOM abandoned the use of their own SOPs and introduced a mysterious spreadsheet for Region Four with numbers that were different from those in the original 879 SOPs.
Clearly, GECOM replaced the authentic SOPs with a fake spreadsheet that reduced the PPP votes by more than 3000 votes (from more than 80,000 to 77,000) and increased the PNC votes by more than 23,000 votes (from 114,000 to 137,000). Thus, instead of a 34,000 win in Region Four, GECOM gave APNU/AFC a 60,000 win, enabling them to overcome the PPP’s advantage of about 53,000 votes in the other nine regions. GECOM rigged the results. No “ands, ifs or buts”, this is electoral fraud. GECOM rigged the results at the behest of David Granger and APNU/AFC. This too is clear.
For nine regions – Regions One, Two, Three, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine and 10 – the Returning Officers (RO) did their verification and tabulation of the results for their respective regions by comparing SOPs in the possession of GECOM itself and all political parties. As expected, there were no significant discrepancies since all the SOPs were prepared in the various Polling Stations and signed off by all party representatives and the Presiding Officers. The tabulation by Presiding Officers was done on spreadsheets that reflected the final results for those regions and those results agreed with tabulations done by the respective political parties. Those results showed the PPP handily won six of the regions, almost tied with APNU/AFC in one region, barely lost one region and APNU/AFC won big in one region. After those declarations for the nine regions were added up, the PPP led by close to 53,000 votes, an unassailable lead, given that APNU/AFC had never come remotely close to winning Region Four by this margin.
For Region Four, there were 879 SOPs. Almost 400 of those were verified by the prescribed method, as described in the Representation of the People’s Act, and as was done in the other nine regions. There was no discrepancy between GECOM’s copies of the SOPs and those in possession of the political parties. Like the other nine regions, GECOM’s SOPs from Region Four, those they verified, did not lie.
Wild discrepancies emerged only when the legal method for verification and tabulation was abruptly changed. This legal, prescribed method has been in use for many elections. It was used for the complete verification and tabulation in nine of the ten regions and was used for 40 per cent of the SOPs in Region Four. Why was it suddenly changed? Immediately, political operatives, observers and the independent media became suspicious. This suspicion is heightened because suddenly GECOM’s and APNU/AFC’s SOPs are no longer open to scrutiny, while the PPP’s SOPs are totally online and open for any of the political party and observers to scrutinise. The spreadsheet itself is a big secret, only in the possession of GECOM. Somebody has much to hide.
First GECOM changed a tested method of comparing SOPs to a method using a mysterious spreadsheet. All the political parties, other than APNU/AFC, objected to the unusual and illegal method that was suddenly introduced. This new and illegal method had to be abandoned because, in front of the whole world, it was exposed that 17 of the first 20 Polling Stations ascribed significantly greater numbers of votes for APNU/AFC than were contained in the SOPs. In fact, after just only 20 Polling Stations, the spreadsheet that GECOM used to replace their copies of SOPs gave APNU/AFC 1700 more votes. The political parties, other than APNU/AFC, together with the observers, raised alarm and GECOM was forced to abandon the method because it mysteriously had much higher numbers for APNU/AFC. It was clear the spreadsheet was populated with bogus numbers, the results were being rigged.
There was an almost 24 hours suspension of the verification and tabulation process. Unknowing to everyone, GECOM in collaboration with APNU/AFC, had decided to abort the public and transparent verification and tabulation exercise. Around 2:00 pm, March 6, with almost 60 per cent of the SOPs from Region Four still to be verified, and people waiting since 9:00 am for the process to restart, GECOM announced the Region Four Returning Officer was ready for the declaration of the Region Four results. The RO then compounded the situation by making a secret declaration. The declaration showed a dramatic difference between GECOM’s spreadsheet total and the total from the actual SOPs. More than 96 hours later, GECOM has not shared this bogus spreadsheet with any of the political parties, unless they shared it with APNU/AFC. The election was officially stolen at that point.
The PPP approached the court for an injunction to prevent the RO of Region Four and GECOM from declaring the Region Four results unless the declaration was done as prescribed in law. The PPP has also asked for an injunction preventing the Chief Elections Officer from using the Region Four illegal declarations to compile a report of the elections results. Guyana awaits the ruling. In the meanwhile, the observers and the diplomatic corps have beseeched David Granger, APNU/AFC and GECOM to revert to the legal process. The March 2, 2020 elections stand severely compromised at this time, not because the SOPs lied, but because GECOM and APNU/AFC have discarded the Region Four SOPs, replacing them with a bogus spreadsheet. Those responsible must be charged with criminal offences against the State. They must be punished so that this never happens again in our beautiful country.