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Guyana Elections Commission’s Chief Elections Officer Submits Recount Report To Chair; Claims Poll Result Was Not “Fair And Credible”

Guyana Elections Commission's Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield.

Guyana Elections Commission’s Chief Elections Officer Submits Recount Report To Chair; Claims Poll Result Was Not “Fair And Credible”

GEORGETOWN, Guyana June 13, 2020 (PRIDE) — Keith Lowenfield, the Chief Elections Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), has submitted his report, of the recently-concluded recount of the March 2 election, to the Chair, retired Justice, Claudette Singh, claiming that the results do not meet the standard of fair and credible elections.

This was confirmed by Public Relations Officer, Yolanda Ward, today, who said that the six commissioners will receive their copies, shortly, making it possible for the third stage of the national recount process to begin: the deliberation of the report — that detailed the complaints and observations made in every region and the findings — by the Commission members.

After deliberating, the Commission will then advise the CEO whether he should use the report to put together another report, for an official declaration of the election results.

The recount exercise ended last Sunday and the PPP/C claimed that it showed it had won the elections 15,416 votes, while the APNU claimed there were numerous instances of irregularities and anomalies. The recount was observed by a three-member team from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and it is expected to submit an Observatory Report.

In his report, Lowenfield noted that in Region One, there are 36 instances, where evidence to validate the usage of certificates of employment were missing; 16 instances, where oaths of identity are used for persons without an ID Card were missing; and 12 instances, where extra ballot papers were found in ballot boxes, without the requisite documentation.

In respect to allegations of voter impersonation, Lowenfield summarised that responses from the Chief Immigration Officer and the General Registrar’s Office Deceased Reports confirmed the voter impersonation claims to be of substance.

“Approximately thirty-three (33) ballot boxes stand affected, due to a total of ninety-three (93) abnormalities, anomalies, and alleged voter impersonation. In other words, approximately 35 percent of all votes, cast for general elections, are associated with boxes that stand to be impacted, due to either anomalies or voter impersonation.

“Specifically, 20 percent of the votes cast are impacted by anomalies, while 13 percent were impacted by voter impersonation, and two percent is impacted by both anomalies/irregularities and voter impersonation,” Lowenfield said in his report that also highlighted instances of missing poll books and evidence of polling activities were not recorded.

“The summation of anomalies and instances of voter impersonation, identified in District One, clearly does not appear to satisfy the criteria of impartiality, fairness, and compliance with provisions of the Constitution and the ROPA Cap 1:03. Consequently, on the basis of the votes counted and the information furnished from the recount, it cannot be ascertained that the results in this District meet the standard of fair and credible elections,” the chief elections officer wrote.

He also highlighted similar instances in Regions, Two, Three and Four, noting that in the latter, a total of 466 ballot boxes were affected, due to a total of 1,862 anomalies and/or alleged voter impersonation and unreconciled ballot boxes.

“In other words, approximately 55 percent of all votes cast for general elections stand to be impacte due to either anomalies and/or voter impersonation or unreconciled ballot boxes. Specifically, 7.2 percent of the votes cast were impacted by anomalies, 39.2 percent were impacted by voter impersonation, 3.4 percent impacted by both anomalies/irregularities and voter impersonation, and 5.7 percent impacted by unreconciled ballot boxes.”

He said in Region Four, 138 poll books were recorded as missing, and there were 156 instances, where the evidence of polling activities was not recorded in the available poll books.

“Specifically, eighteen (18) certificates of employment (Form 4), fifty-six (56) oaths of identity (Form 19) were not available to support entries in the poll books. As a consequence, it could not be reconciled that electors who cast ballots in these cases met the statutory requirements. Also, the recount recorded eighty-two (82) cases of extra or missing ballots from ballot boxes”.

The Chief Elections Officer also said it cannot be ascertained that the results met the standard for free and fair elections, highlighting the many cases of anomalies and the impact those anomalies would have on the votes and the outcome of the elections.

But the main opposition party, the Peoples’ Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) — which the ballot recount, concluded last Sunday, showed, has, unofficially, won the election by 15,416 votes — argued that “Lowenfield has no power or authority or any mandate to offer a view, opinion or judgement, of any type, either in the Observation Report or the Matrices to be tabulated”.

“As regards the Observation Report, his singular duty was to summarize the various Observation Reports and, in respect of the Matrices, his sole duty was to aggregate the totals in the Matrices.

“In a clear and blatant violation of the Order, Lowenfield arrogated unto himself the role of an investigator, Judge and executioner, and made conclusive findings, in respect of the wild, reckless and baseless allegations, made by APNU+AFC and rendered a judgement on them, concluding that they were established, without doing any investigations, hearing no one affected, and applying principles only known to himself,” the PPP/C pointed out in a press release, today.

“Undoubtedly, in one swipe, Lowenfield has acted ultra vires, in excess of and without authority, in violation of natural justice, in abrogation of the separation of powers doctrine, unlawfully, unconstitutionally, and the pronouncements that he has made are certainly null, void and of no effect,” the main opposition posited, adding “his pronouncements and tabulations, bear a striking resemblance to the contentions and calculations of the APNU+AFC, have not gone unnoticed”.

“Worse yet,” the release continued, “Lowenfield has indicted his own elections, of which he was the Chief Elections Officer, and has, in effect, conceded that he has committed Misfeasance in Public Office, an issue which will be pursued at another time.

“In so doing, he has also thrown under the bus, thousands of Guyanese, who have worked, diligently, in the electoral machinery, all because he wants to satisfy the agenda of his political masters at Congress Place.”

“Lowenfield has also rendered the entire Commission complicit in, and culpable of, spending approximately $8B of taxpayers’ dollars in holding elections that were not credible.

“It is clear that GECOM is enjoined, by the law and the Constitution, to ignore every aspect of Lowenfield’s report, other than the General Elections Recount Totals and the Regional Elections Recount Totals,” the PPP/C contended.

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