– Expects GECOM to investigate whether allegations are factual
– The APNU+AFC Coalition has no intention of proving a majority of its claims of elections irregularities, as it relates to people for which it claims votes were fraudulently
cast while they were outside of the jurisdiction on Election Day.
This particular grouping of ‘foreign voters’ accounts for 1,261 (or 65 percent) of the Coalition’s 1,937 claims of irregularities.
PNCR Executive, Aubrey Norton indicated that the party expects GECOM to investigate to determine whether the claims are factual.
Norton’s comments were made at the National Recount Media Centre yesterday.
The party had previously said that it would provide evidence, even saying that it has already started providing evidence to GECOM. However, when asked yesterday what percentage of the evidence the Coalition has presented to GECOM to support any of their many claims of electoral fraud, Norton evaded the question.
His response spoke to the presentation of death certificates: “Well, to provide the evidence, you would recognise, you have to get the death certificates. We have been doing that.”
The claims of dead voters amount to 40, as of the last table posted by APNU+AFC up to press time. This amounts to about two percent of all the party’s claims of irregularities.
But on the issue of proving votes were cast for persons who were out of the jurisdiction on Election Day, Norton said, “We are also working on the list of persons who were on Election Day outside the jurisdiction.”
Norton was asked what evidence is being presented to prove these specific claims.
He responded, “There are cases where our field workers went into the field and got names of people who migrated. As I understand it, we can, once we say these are the factors, we can write the Elections Commission CEO and ask them to use their authority to access the database to be able to confirm or deny.”
At this point, a reporter noted that such a list would not actually be evidence but rather, a claim for GECOM to probe.
But Norton did not agree, he said, “we are supplying what we call evidence. The only persons that can say it is evidence and not hearsay are those in charge of the [immigration] database.”
Asked whether it is the Coalition’s fieldwork that it considers evidence, he responded, “evidence is fact.”
Yet, he continued by saying that when the claims “arrive at GECOM”, it is “for GECOM to do the official thing and confirm or deny what we are saying”.
His comments stand in contrast to the view of GECOM Chair, Justice Claudette Singh that “he who asserts, must prove”.
Pointed to this statement, Norton said, “Well, we are proving by providing the information.”
“If I go to a Court of law, and I say you slap me, and I say to the Court, that X person slap me, the Court then has to now verify whether that is fact or not. I’m saying, it is a similar process, we provide the information and GECOM is the legally constituted body that can relate to the state agencies and confirm what we are saying is fact.”
Norton repeated his view, several times during the interview, that GECOM should take the claims being made and investigate on its own.
But despite his view that it is for GECOM to probe the claims and to find the evidence, the Coalition has already published its own tabulation of all of its unsubstantiated claims, marketing them as “clear evidence of electoral fraud and rigging” – in Norton’s own words.
Pointed to this contradiction, Norton responded “But the party cannot confirm. The party can get the facts, present it to GECOM and GECOM has to approach the appropriate Government structure to confirm.”
Pointed again to the publication of unsubstantiated claims, Norton said, “We are publishing the information at our disposal.”
One reporter said therefore, that what are being presented are allegations and not facts. Norton responded, “That is your opinion.”
Norton then said that when it presents its list “in a document as fact, GECOM can now check it and decide if we misinform or we inform correctly.”
He is confident that GECOM will determine the latter.
APNU+AFC counting agent, Ganesh Mahipaul had, on May 19 last, admitted that the Coalition has been operating on unconfirmed reports, where these specific claims of ‘foreign voters’ are concerned.
Multiple appeals have been made by stakeholders, including the press, for the Coalition to release evidence. The party, not submitting actual evidence, has decided to consider a list as evidence.
“I have backed up the allegations in my station with hearsay. I am not going to dispute hearsay,” Mahipaul had said.
The Coalition’s claims, especially where ‘foreign voters’ are concerned, have so far been baseless. The method of objection is also being criticised as a way of frustrating the process, by other parties.
For instance, The Citizenship Initiative (TCI) Executive, Shaz Ally posted on Facebook yesterday that, of Box 6162, the Coalition agent called 100 serial numbers out as linked to persons who are allegedly dead or were allegedly out of the jurisdiction on Election Day. But when GECOM checked the Official List of Electors, Ally said, only four of the serial numbers were ticked off to indicate that those persons had voted. He said no evidence was presented.
GECOM had only recently passed down a decision that it would only note objections in the observation reports, if the names are ticked off to indicate the persons had voted. Before that, staffers were expected to note whatever objections were made by political agents.
In addition, one attempt by this newspaper to independently verify the Coalition’s claims of ‘foreign voters’ in ballot box 6007, found that a Berbice couple, who were at home on Election Day, were roped into the party’s objections.
In an interview with Kaieteur News, Shirley Nicholson had confirmed that she and her husband, Aubrey Nicholson were both in the country and voted early, spending the rest of the day with their grandchildren. Her husband had taken part in an interview with a Berbice television station, footage of which this paper has seen.
Particular to the Coalition’s claims of irregularities is that they were deliberately orchestrated by the PPP/C to rig the elections in its favour. But when the Coalition’s Leonard Craig doubled down on the false ‘foreign voters’ claim about the Berbice couple, Kaieteur News was told by the Nicholsons that they both went to the polling place, Sisters Village Primary School, and voted for the Coalition.
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