May 12, 2015 News
By Abena Rockcliffe
Pandemonium broke out at Central High School Smyth Street, Georgetown, yesterday morning, after a reported amount of 49 voters got news that they might have been disenfranchised at the negligence of a worker
attached to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM.)
When Kaieteur News arrived on the scene, an angry crowd stood outside the building demanding that something be done to ensure that their cast votes with defective stamps are counted.
This was as a result of the fact that the Presiding Officer of one of the polling stations housed at the school, decided to write on some of the numbers that are supposed to form GECOM’s official six digits stamp.
Kaieteur News was told that about two of the numbers of the stamp were absent and the officer, instead of informing the relevant authorities so that a new stamp could be had, decided to write the missing digits.
When one voter realized what was happening, he raised an alarm and “things went crazy” from there, resulting in the suspension of voting at that station.
“They wait till the young people come out to fool them. We came cool and calm to nasty we finger and watch wah dem doing. You can’t tell we months you preparing for elections and your stamp ain’t working,” said a voter.
Another voter added, “Only Jah knows what would have happened if that man didn’t realize what they doing. We votes wouldn’t a count.”
Applause was given when GECOM’s Chairman, Dr. Steve Surujbally arrived at the polling place.
He immediately went into the specific station and addressed the issue. The angry voters were so eager to know what would become of the officer that they rushed to the side of the school and peered through the vents. Dr. Surujbally seemed to be speaking firmly to the young woman.
But even that was not enough to “humble” her as she rolled her eyes and placed her hands on her hips while being spoken to by her boss. The GECOM Chairman then had cause to ask her if she had any training.
The attentive crowd shouted, “We gun hang yuh.”
After this Dr, Surujbally returned outside and assured irate voters their votes would be counted, nevertheless, after which he apologized for the mishap. Surujbally said that a similar problem was identified at a polling station at West Ruimveldt.
He said that Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield, would have arrived in “10 minutes” with a replacement stamp so that the once stalled voting process at that station could have continued. This announcement appeased the voters and things continued peacefully. As promised, Lowenfield soon after delivered a new stamp.
Lowenfield told reporters, “Yes she marked it with a pen and said that it was in her training. I really can’t say what is going on. I brought the stamp and the situation has been appeased.”
Meanwhile, A Partnership For National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) held a press conference yesterday afternoon where this matter was addressed.
The coalition’s election co-chair, Raphael Trotman said that he would not deem the incident as nothing more, but one where the equipment simply failed the officers there and as such, they substituted with writing in the illegibly stamped six digit numbers.
Though there have been several disturbances around the country, Trotman said that he is generally satisfied with the process. Even at15:00pm, he was still encouraging the “undecided” to “get out and vote” during this historic period
Trotman stated that voting in all the regions except Demerara-Mahaica (Region Four) saw a smooth process with little to no disruptions.
In Region Four, the politician said that the opposition has noted that persons were found trying to infiltrate polling stations and tamper with the ballot boxes.
“I spoke with the people on the ground and I don’t understand why people would want to take possession of ballot boxes in Guyhoc and Tucville. And some of these people involved in these activities are known PPP/C activists. We don’t know why these attempts, but we were made to understand that these cases were adequately dealt with by the police,” said Trotman.
He noted, however, that while Region Five voting was smooth, the party received one report of an under aged girl being allowed to cast her vote. Trotman said that he understands that the matter is being investigated.
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