Jan 23, 2014 News
Results of future elections in Guyana may be announced much earlier if a pilot project to test an automatic ballot scan and tabulation system proves successful.
According to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), the body that oversees local polls, it is exploring the possibility of embarking on a pilot project in which the automatic scanning and tabulation machines could be used in a future election.
In the past, the official announcements of results were delayed by as much as three days to compute votes from especially outlying districts. The computerization of the results has also been seen as a timely exercise which has contributed significantly to the delays.
According to GECOM, on Monday, a team of the DELIAN Project, an independent, non-profit organization registered in Canada, and the United States of America, met with its officials and conducted a demonstration on the use of automatic ballot scan and tabulation technology.
The DELIAN team comprised Jean-Pierre Kingsley, Chief Executive Officer of the International Foundation of electoral systems and currently Chairman of the DELIAN’s Advisory Board. He has served as the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada from 1997 to 2010. The team also included John Hollins, Chairman of the DELIAN Board of Directors, who was Chief Electoral Officer for the Province of Ontario form 2001 to 2008, and Allan Best, Managing Director.
The DELIAN Project was created in 2011 as a philanthropic entity by the Canadian elections technology firm, Dominion Voting Systems (DVS). The Project procures and donates electoral technology to emerging and growing democracies.
DELIAN is a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact, and recently joined the Clinton Global Initiative.
According to GECOM, at the demonstration, it was pointed out that the DELIAN Project could donate up to 25 paper-based, automatic ballot scan and tabulation machines to Guyana for a future election.
“Each machine can handle roughly 1,000 – 1,250 voters on a typical polling day. The automatic ballot scan and tabulation system could be deployed on a pilot basis at up to 25 polling stations at a future election, as selected by GECOM,” the Commission said yesterday in a statement.
The advantage of a paper-based, automatic ballot scan and tabulation system solution is that results are tabulated (counted) as they are sent in at the close of the polls, resulting in the ability to announce results immediately, while still maintaining the comfort of a “paper trail” should a physical re-count be required.
“The automatic ballot scan and tabulation systems are paper-based and allow for electronic, automatic tabulation of results.
They are a form of document ballot voting systems, meaning that there is a tangible record of the voter’s intent even as a voter still marks a traditional paper ballot.”
According to GECOM, the procedure for using the automatic ballot scan and tabulation system involves the voter simply using pen and paper to mark his/her intent on the ballot, and the voter’s ballot paper being confidentially scanned and dropped into a sealed ballot box.
“At the close of polls, results are tabulated and the statement of poll is printed and shared with polling station officials, and then sent to the Returning Officer through a secure, electronic medium.”
GECOM explained that in the case of an unclear mark, the ballot scan and tabulation machine returns the ballot to the voter for review and correction, if desired.
“Finally, the Returning Officer electronically collates and tabulates poll results received from the multiple machines to rapidly and accurately produce consolidated poll results. Of importance, is that the ballot paper can be used to complete an audit trail if a manual recount becomes necessary.”
During their three-day visit to Guyana, the DELIAN Project Representatives also met with the People’s Progressive Party/Civic, A Partnership for National Unity and the Alliance For Change.
They also visited Leguan and Wakenaam Islands, in the Essequibo River, to get a feel of the type of terrain in which the machines could be put to use in any pilot project.
GECOM, however, pointed out that Guyana’s election laws do not currently provide for the use of electronic voting systems.
“Hence, the laws would have to be amended accordingly, should there be agreement between GECOM and the bona fide political parties pertaining to any introduction of the automatic ballot scan and tabulation systems in Guyana.”
Witnessing the demonstration which was conducted in the GECOM Boardroom were Dr. Steve Surujbally, Chairman of GECOM, Commissioners Sandra Jones and Arun Mangar, Calvin Benn – Chief Election Officer (ag), Keith Lowenfield – Deputy Chief Election Officer (ag), and technical staff from the Commission’s IT Division.
Subsequent to its visit to Guyana, the DELIAN Project Team conducted another demonstration to a wider audience during the 7th Annual General Meeting of the Association of Caribbean Electoral Organisations (ACEO), which was held under the Chairmanship of Dr. Surujbally in Paramaribo, Suriname on January 16-17, 2014.
Local Government Elections is set for this year, after almost 18 years.
Jagdeo will make ayo sell ayo bodies to feed ya’ll pickney.
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