Some Statements of Recount contradict ‘evidence’
In his second pre-recorded press statement in a little over a week, former Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, doubled down on the APNU+AFC Coalition’s claims that the March 2nd elections were fraudulent as evidenced by GECOM’s own records, even as some of the numbers he provided turned out to be false.
In his video presentation, and the transcript subsequently issued, Harmon claimed that:
“Over the period 26th to the 28th of May, our agents have identified and from GECOM’s own records confirmed that there was massive voter fraud in District 7 and 8, and our election agent has written the Chairman of GECOM calling for urgent investigation and a response before the tabulated votes in the regions are announced.”
He said that over that period, the Coalition identified from GECOM records over 83 cases of irregularities.
Harmon is also the Election Agent and Campaign Manager for the incumbent APNU+AFC coalition.
“From these examinations we have formed a clear impression that Districts 1, 7, 8 and 9 has been specifically targeted for special operations by the PPP. I will focus on Electoral Districts 7 and 8 today. For example, in Ballot Box 7079, 352 ballots were issued on Election Day, yet 377 were discovered in the box at the recount.”
He also said that in Ballot Box 7024, fifty (50) counterfoils were missing from the ballots issued.
“This means that fifty (50) ballots have been casted elsewhere. Similar occurrences were found in Ballot Box 7003, where the wrong list of electors was found in the box. In Ballot Box 7060, the list of electors ticked off for another station was found in this box. Additionally, there were seven (7) extra ballots cast in excess of the list and any other procedure which would allow it. We noted the flagrant misuse of oaths of identity.”
According to Harmon, this meant that there were persons who casted ballots without any identification and without evidence of an oath of identity.
“There were 326 such cases identified in 27 Ballot Boxes and might I remind you viewers and listeners that these emanate from GECOM’s own record at the recount and for which we have written requesting an investigation.”
Ballot Box 7079
Kaieteur News sought to independently verify Harmon’s claims. For Ballot Box 7079 – the box attached to Phillipai Primary School, Polling Division 72119(i), Region Seven – where Harmon claims that “352 ballots were issued on Election Day, yet 377 were discovered in the box at the recount”, the official Statement Of Recount (SOR) shows that the total number of valid votes cast was 223. The SOR for this box was signed off by all contesting parties, including APNU+AFC agent, Sumanta Alleyne.
In response to Harmon’s claims, PPP yesterday sent out a statement challenging the figures presented in general and specifically in relation to this box. The statement, in keeping with our findings, read: “First, he claimed that in Ballot Box 7079, a total of 352 ballots were issued, but 377 ballots were found in the Ballot Box. However, the Statement of Recount for Ballot Box 7079, Phillipai Primary School, make it clear that there were not 377 ballots in the Ballot Box; rather there were 227 votes cast – 223 being deemed valid and four being rejected ballots.”
In response, however, the Coalition sent out another statement late last night, in which it clarified Harmon’s numbers. “The same ballot box checklist,” the statement read, “for Phillipai Primary School Box 7079 which sets out the contents of Box, recorded PE6 -Total Ballot Counterfoils (ordinary) 227 and PE 4 Total Ballots unused (ordinary) 150 resulting in a total of 377 ballots in Box 7079.”
The observation report and the ballot box checklist provided by the Coalition support the claim that while 352 ballots were issued, the listed number of unused ballots and total ballots used amounted to 377, an excess of 25.
The PPP also challenged Harmon’s claims about Ballot Box 7003, Polling Division 71123(ii), Regina’s Shop, Comang. The party noted that “the Observation Report for Ballot Box 7003 explains that Ballot Box 7002 was brought out, instead of Ballot Box 7003 and this ‘resulted in a mix up’ that was corrected. The Observation Report also said, ‘No other error was found in this box.’” The Coalition in its response did not address this issue. Its agent, Alleyne, signed off on the SOR.
For Ballot Box 7060 – attached to Jawalla Primary, Polling Division 72110(i) – Harmon claimed that there were seven extra ballots cast more than the electors on the list. The statement of recount for this box showed that there were a total number of 225 votes, of which 9 were invalid and 216 valid. While PD 72110 is divided into several sub-divisions, even when this paper conservatively assigned only last names A-E to sub-division 72110(i), this showed a list of electors of 231, six more than the total number of valid votes cast, not seven less as Harmon had claimed. This SOR was also signed off by Alleyne.
Kaieteur News could not independently verify Harmon’s claims with regard to Ballot Box 7024, specifically his contention that 50 counterfoils were missing and hence this was evidence of 50 ballots cast elsewhere. The Official List of Electors for this box – representing Polling Division 722131, St. Martin Primary School – numbered 184. The total number of votes cast, according to the SOR, was 106 of which 102 were valid. APNU+AFC agent Alleyne also signed off on the statement of recount for this box.
The incorrect claims on what has been presented as ‘evidence’ by the Coalition of specific discrepancies in ballot boxes have increased over the past few weeks.
One week ago, Harmon’s fellow PNC executive, Aubrey Norton, almost made a claim about a Region Six ballot box.
“I want to point out,” Norton had told the media, “that in Box 5083 at Bush Lot, Region Five, the official list of electors had 199 persons.”
The ballot box in question came from Bush Lot Nursery School.
In seeking to illustrate an example of what he claimed to be numerous anomalies, Norton then stated that in that box the PPP/C got 199 votes, while APNU+AFC got four votes.
This was evidence, he asserted, of an irregularity wherein the total number of voters, 203, exceeded the total number of eligible voters – the 199 he claimed – attached to the OLE for that box.
Kaieteur News examined the OLE for the sub-division number associated with that ballot box, 52213C (ii), which lists voters with last names N-W. This subdivision accounted for electors with serial numbers 262 (Nabby, C) to 518 (Williams, P), a total of 257 eligible voters, not the 199 Norton had claimed.
The same day Norton had made the Bush Lot ballot box allegation, the Coalition had made an even more extreme assertion. On its official Facebook page, it had claimed:
“Breaking news: Sophia Nursery School, at the lower level polling station L-Z 41333Ciii, our agent found 61 unstamped ballots (INVALID). Presiding Officer failed to stamp.”
However, at the time that the post was made the ballot box for that subdivision, Box 4549, had not yet been opened to be recounted.
As of yesterday, a week after the claim was first made, Region Four ballot boxes had still not yet breached the Box 4500 mark.
“My fellow Guyanese,” Harmon stated in his address yesterday, “as you can see our intervention with GECOM has been based on evidence and we require the Election Commission to act in a timely manner on these investigations as the cumulative impact of these irregularities and fraud has a bearing on the validity of all votes.”
Harmon, President David Granger’s longtime second-in-command, exhorted the Guyana Elections Commission to be more proactive in dealing with the ‘evidence’ he presented: “Come on GECOM wake up! Get your act together! There is electoral fraud which your own records is now making even more glaring.”
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