Mar 27, 2020 News
According to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), there is no legal requirement for agents of political parties to monitor the containers which hold ballot boxes—once they have been deposited in the custody of the Commission.
GECOM’s enlightenment followed after there were messages circulating which claimed that GECOM was restricting party agents from moving around containers to ensure that they were kept safe and had not been compromised.
GECOM refuted those claims and was keen to reference Section 141 of the Representation of the People Act, which states that “…in any indictment, information or complaint for an offence in relation to the ballot boxes, ballot papers and other election material, the property in them may be stated to be in the Chief Election Officer.”
“The law does not contemplate party agents as a key stakeholder in the security of ballot boxes once these have been deposited,” GECOM said in a press statement yesterday.
Though there is legal provision for party agents to act as security for electoral materials, in the present circumstance, Chairperson of GECOM, Justice (ret’d) Claudette Singh, made a decision on March 15, 2020 that one agent per political party be accommodated in GECOM’s compound for the sole purpose of watching containers with the March 2, General and Regional Elections 2020 ballot boxes.
In fact, pre-dating to Election Day, there was an administrative arrangement for all contesting parties to place chains and padlocks on each container with ballot boxes. Only the two main parties, the APNU+AFC Coalition and the PPP/C, have placed chains and padlocks on each container in the custody the Commission.
“GECOM recognised that the safety and security of its staff and compound were compromised by the presence of party agents, and as of March 25, 2020, political parties were asked to desist from photographing and taking videos of staff members and GECOM’s routine operations. In light of the foregoing, the Commission is requesting for party agents to observe the Commission security protocol and desist from peddling misinformation in this regard,” the statement concluded.
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