May 13, 2015 News
By Desilon Daniels
As tensions continue to flare following the conclusion of Monday’s voting, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has called for peace to prevail as it prepares to reveal the results of General and Regional Elections.
Since Monday, reports of unrest, primarily in Region Four, have surfaced. These reports have reached not only GECOM but also the main contesting parties, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) and the coalition, A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC).
During a press conference on Monday evening at GECOM’s Command Centre, GECOM Chairman Dr. Steve Surujbally urged the citizenry to remain calm as GECOM executed its duties. He said too, that he had spoken with representatives from both the main parties and advised them to have their supporters endorse peace.
“We need that peace and tranquility as of now,” Surujbally said before continuing, “Already there have been too many episodes of turbulence – not very great turbulence – but turbulence, nevertheless, and I am saying that the political party leaders, especially those of the major political parties, have to address the citizenry of the country.”
He further emphasised that a “beautifully run election” should not be besmirched by unrest. He added that GECOM had received kudos from both international and local observers along with citizens who had voted.
“The technical aspect went very well; let us not have a situation in which that which we have achieved is undermined and destroyed,” Surujbally asserted.
Other issues which arose had been translated to GECOM by political parties. When questioned on whether GECOM felt any political pressure to deal with alleged issues, Surujbally said that personally, he did not believe so.
Instead, he said, “I feel vexation; I feel frustration.” He went on, “To see that all that we’ve prepared for over the years in the inter-electoral period, to see that all the work over the last six months and before is being threatened…that would make anybody’s blood boil. However, I am too old to become distraught to any great degree. However, my country is dear to me and to see what I’ve experienced in my youth again come to past, especially on my watch, is not very helpful to my whole equanimity. So, no pressure in that sense but a feeling of despondency, because of activities that are beyond our control.”
One of the allegations leveled during this year’s General and Regional elections has been that of multiple voting. However, when questioned on the possibility of multiple voting, Surujbally said that he could not fathom how the feat could be accomplished in light of the mechanisms put in place by GECOM to prevent electoral offenses.
“There is a certain methodology that we’ve implemented that precludes that possibility,” he said. He emphasised that a number of areas needed to be verified before someone could vote, including the presentation of a national identification card. He added that if a voter fails to present an ID card, provided details must match those in GECOM’s folio. He also noted the difficulty in removing voting ink from one’s finger. “So, it is pretty much for me an impossibility,” he added.
Similarly, Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield deemed it highly unlikely that persons could vote as someone else with all the safeguards put in place by GECOM, unless there is collaboration from all sides.
“We’ve gone to great lengths over time to ensure that all the methodologies applied will be impossible for persons to beat the system. For any multiple voting, for me it has to be collaboration between and among all present at the polling station,” Lowenfield said. “We go above and beyond to ensure that our system is foolproof…and to have that beat, my thinking at this point in time is that there very well may be quite a lot of collaboration.”
Meanwhile, Lowenfield also revealed that the entire process following 12 hours of continuous voting had gone smoothly “with few hiccups”.
Lowenfield said that reports coming in from all ten administrative regions of Guyana indicated that voting had been conducted efficiently.
“In the main, voting went very smoothly with a few hiccups, as it were, here and there,” Lowenfield said.
Elaborating on these “hiccups”, Lowenfield admitted that there were some instances throughout Elections Day that had been brought to GECOM’s attention. However, he said with confidence, “the police will no doubt be doing their own investigations as the days progress” to deal with these reported instances.
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