– car slams into minibus transporting ballot boxes under police escort
The 2011 General and Regional Elections kicked off yesterday with close to 6,000 members of the Joint Services casting their ballots at several polling stations throughout the country.
Voting commenced at 07:00 hours and apart from some slight delays and concerns, the process was in the main, smoothly carried out.
Voters expressed concerns that their ballot papers were not stamped as is prescribed by the Guyana Elections Commission.
This, they believe, could lead to their ballots being declared invalid.
However, it was explained that the ballots will be sorted and sent to the electors’ geographic locations where it will be stamped on the official Elections Day, November 28.
But GECOM in a statement yesterday dismissed the concerns as mere unfounded rumours.
“It was brought to the attention of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) that it is being rumoured that the absence of the “six digit number” on the ballot papers being used for voting by members of the Disciplined Forces is evidence that the 2011 General and Regional Elections are being rigged.
“GECOM hereby takes the opportunity to make it abundantly and unambiguously clear that the procedure for voting by members of the Disciplined Forces does not include the stamping of the Ballot Papers with the ‘six digit number’.”
It listed the procedures for voting by Members of the Disciplined Forces.
“1. The Casting of Discipline forces ballots shall be conducted in the same manner as that of the Non-Resident Electors.
2. The Ballot Officer shall supply to every person entitled to vote at the respective Place of Poll his/her Ballot Paper in an unsealed envelope. On each envelope, his/her name, polling district, division code number and polling station will be stated.
3. Upon issuing the unsealed envelope to the person entitled to vote, such person shall mark his/her ballot and place it in the envelope which he/she shall seal before placing it in the ballot box provided by the Ballot Attendant.
4. Upon receipt of the envelopes containing the ballots cast, the Chief Election Officer or his duly appointed representative shall sort the envelopes with the ballots cast therein and place each envelope in a packet (envelope PE 20) for transmission to the relevant Polling Station in the relevant Geographical District and prepare a written statement of the number of envelopes so sorted.
5. The Chief Election Officer shall, transmit all sealed envelopes with the ballots cast to the respective Returning Officer for each Geographical District together with a copy of written record of number of envelopes so dispatched.
6. GECOM shall, in respect of each geographical constituency publish the names of polling stations in each polling district where the sealed envelopes with the cast ballots shall be sent by the Returning Officer for the votes to be cast at such Polling Stations before the close of poll on Election Day, Monday, November 28, 2011.
7. In the presence of the Polling Agents the Presiding Officer shall verify and record the number of envelopes with the cast ballots before casting the ballot contained in the envelopes at the respective Polling Stations.
8. Before the close of the poll on Election Day, in the presence of the Polling Agents, the Presiding Officer shall:- (a) Verify the number of envelopes; (b) check the accompanying Statement of Ballot Paper Account for verification and deposit it in the ballot box at his/her Polling Station; (c) inform Polling Agents of his/her proposed action to intermix the Disciplined Forces ordinary ballots with the ordinary ballots of the Polling Station; (d) open each envelope received with the marked ballot papers;
(e) without exposing the secrecy of the ballots, stamp them with the official mark for that polling station at the top for general election and at the bottom for regional election; (f) insert the folded ballot paper into the ballot box in the full view of all present; (g) place the empty envelope (PE 20) and the emptied individual envelopes into (PE 21).”
According to GECOM, persons who voted yesterday shall then be deemed to have cast their votes at the Elections in the District in which the relevant Polling Stations are situated.
GECOM said that the procedure is nothing new as it had been used in the past Elections so far as voting by Members of the Disciplined Forces is concerned.
“There is nothing abnormal about the absence of the “six digit number” from the Ballot Papers being used by Members of the Disciplined Forces to vote.”
GECOM is hereby calling upon all concerned not to pay heed to the rumours being propagated that the absence of the “six digit number” is indicative of the Elections being rigged.
This process, this newspaper was told, is to preserve the integrity of the military ballots.
This newspaper visited the Police Officers’ Mess where Police Commissioner Henry Greene was the first to cast his ballot.
For Greene and the other officers and ranks who followed him, the process was very smooth.
The Commissioner said that his ranks are covering all the polling stations including Guyana Defence Force and other Joint Services locations throughout the country.
At the Guyana Prisons Service Sports Club, several persons lined up and waited patiently for their turn to exercise their franchise.
There was, however, some frustration as persons reportedly could not find their names on the list of electors.
Voting for the military ceased at 19:00 hours.
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I have been doing columns since 1988. I have been a major columnist with the Catholic Standard, Stabroek News, Kaieteur... more