The “operational procedures” of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) stymied the timely flow of elections results, observers of the Organisation of American States (OAS), stated yesterday.
“It is unfortunate that following a generally well administered election up to and including Polling Day the failure to ensure the timely dissemination of results may undermine the good work done thus far,” the OAS Lead Observer, Gordon Shirley stated.
The OAS mission called upon GECOM to work diligently to issue the results quickly and to address “the operational procedures that led to the delay so that this matter can be avoided in the future.”
After the close of the polls, the vote counting and transmission process suffered from significant delays, the OAS observers noted.
“The mission considers it unfortunate that the smooth functioning of the process seen throughout the day was replaced by inefficient procedures and a lack of coordination in the processing and release of preliminary and final results.”
In addition, at 06:00 hrs Tuesday, the Observers noted what it said was “a significant discrepancy” between the number of statements of poll received by the Returning Officer for Region Four and those processed at the GECOM headquarters.
The OAS teams stationed at GECOM’s tabulation center in Georgetown reported seeing at least two envelopes containing statements of poll being delivered by an unaccredited and unescorted individual.
“While the OAS has maintained a 24-hour presence in the tabulation centre since the close of polls, the level of transparency and access to information regarding the process has not been as complete as that experienced by the mission prior to election day.”
The OAS team said that delays in the release of the results can only undermine confidence in the electoral process and fuel speculation by interveners who may wish to take advantage of the situation.
For the elections, the OAS Electoral Observation Mission fielded 25 observers from 14 countries in nine of the country’s 10 administrative regions, and has maintained a 24-hour presence in the GECOM tabulation center since the close of polls.
On Election Day, the OAS observers noted that the polls opened on time in nearly all the observed locations, all essential materials had arrived, and that the poll workers ensured the smooth flow of the process.
The OAS Observer team has made several recommendations for improvement to future electoral processes.
They said that mechanisms should be incorporated to ensure sufficient time for the planning, testing, and troubleshooting of issues that pertain to relocation of polling stations; communications regarding changes in procedures and policies from previous elections; transmission of preliminary and final results; and standardization of the electoral calendar with specific deadlines and milestones.
The mission recommended that additional mechanisms to ensure the security of electoral results are implemented throughout the course of the transfer of electoral materials between the regional offices and GECOM’s central tabulation centre.
These mechanisms should include the confirmation of accredited, escorted and previously identified individuals, the OAS Observers stated.
In order to ensure transparency and instill additional confidence in the process, the OAS mission recommended the strengthening of several of GECOM’s communications processes.
These recommendations include preparing in advance and standardizing clear communications and explanations of technical electoral issues for the public, particularly regarding the tabulation of results.
The Observers also urged the promotion of gender balanced participation throughout the electoral process.
This recommendation stemmed from the fact that only one of the four major political parties fielded a woman at the top of its ticket for this election.
The OAS electoral observation mission said that it will continue to observe the tabulation process throughout the rest of the week.
A verbal report on the observations and recommendations of the OAS Observer Mission will be presented by the Chief of Mission to the OAS Permanent Council in Washington, DC, next January.
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