The timetable originally finalized and decided upon as what was required to complete the elections recount process underway at GECOM now looks way underestimated and woefully inadequate. Twenty-five days is almost guaranteed to fall short, extremely short at meeting that deadline. We will now go out on a limb, and assert from this early juncture, that not just a few days more may be needed but several weeks. Here is why we think so and state so.
A start is made by examining the numbers, as they have been recounted and confirmed so far. Before proceeding further, we take a bow before much more sophisticated efforts and extrapolations presented in the public domain, as to the sufficiency, or the deficiency, of the 25-day limit. We will keep things as simple as possible.
At the close of counting on Day 14, the media reports are of 718 out of 2339 ballot boxes have been recounted and completed (KN, May 20). That is just over 30% of the total number at the end of Day 14. We must acknowledge that, indeed, the pace of the recount has increased. But, even as we do so, we recognize that almost 60% (56%, to be precise) of the agreed upon days for the recount have elapsed. We hope that the rest of Guyana appreciates what we have seen, what we are saying, and where we are going with this. That is, there is more than a narrow mismatch in recounted and completed boxes and the days gone, and the smaller number of the latter left. It is the warning situation that with a mere 30% of ballot boxes finished in 56% of the days, it might be the tautest of stretches to complete the other 70% of still to be recounted boxes in the 44% time left.
To be reasonable, we make allowance for the two additional workstations now in operation, as they provide much timely help. The insistent calls from several corners have been for many more of such workstations to be added early, as in now, to that small figure recently introduced. They could make a significant difference and enable completion of the recount within the 25-day ceiling embodied in the Recount Order to be a real possibility. If this is not done at the earliest moment, we are unable to comprehend how the 25-day deadline will be met, given the current pace of things.
At this point, we proceed from the largely quantitative to the more qualitative aspects of what is involved in the recount. To begin with, disagreements and objections have occurred over one aspect of the ballots or the other, but they have been largely sporadic and managed authoritatively by GECOM. Though that may have been so, we suspect that the larger, more intense clashes, and the real battleground will be as recounting goes deeper into the thorny Region 4 territory and its associated ballot boxes. We anticipate that the protests and disputes will increase exponentially and that there will be the inevitable push-backs. These could slow down the recount process more often than not and significantly, but not necessarily fatally. Thus, we have problems from now with GECOM’s ability to fulfill the Recount Order timeline, given where matters stand.
As we do so, there is appreciation that ballot boxes for the lesser contested regions will be smaller in the number of ballots cast and involved and, therefore, be completed more smoothly and rapidly; the contentiousness should be lesser. Moreover, in view of the known demographic spreads and areas with thinner numbers of eligible voters, there are grounds to think that the number of additional days that would be required could be smaller than greater. This is our hope.
But to reiterate our position, we do not think that with the total number of current workstations in action, that this recount could be completed within the allotted 25-day time period. Something will have to give. It would have to be either the number of new workstations put into early action, or the number of days needed by way of an extension. The two are dependent upon each other: more workstations mean lesser days required. Otherwise, the 25-day deadline looks unattainable.
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