Yesterday, the second consecutive day, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) disenfranchised a significant number of voters from the March 2 Elections. This was after it was discovered that 108 ballot papers lacked the official stamp of GECOM. These 108 ballots have now been deemed invalid and were therefore rejected from the national recount exercise.
From ballot box #4583 in division 414112 (ii), containing ballots from the Plindora Nursery School in Ogle, it was illustrated on the Observation Report (OR) that these 108 ballots were rejected since they lacked the official mark of the Elections Commission. Details of the report showed that 97 of those votes went to the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) and the remaining nine to the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) which were cast in the General Elections.
The report went on to state that for the General Elections, there was one unmarked ballot, two were rejected since they were marked for more than one party, and four spoilt ballots were written in the poll book but were not found in the ballot box.
The report went on to state that there were two unmarked ballots for the Regional Elections, one was marked for more than one party and 17 lacked the official stamp of GECOM—14 votes which were cast for the PPP/C and three for the governing Coalition.
Previously, this publication had written that human error of an Assistant Presiding Officer (APO) resulted in a total of 83 ballots being rejected from the Sophia Nursery School polling place, lower level polling station L-Z 41333Ciii.
At the recount on Wednesday, ballot box #4549 was opened and recounted and the alarming numbers of rejected ballots were discovered. Incidentally, this was the same box that APNU+AFC Coalition objected to on May 22, two weeks ago, despite the box not yet opened to be counted.
However, this was not the case with the recent 108 ballots says Presidential Candidate of The Citizenship Initiative (TCI) Rondha-Ann Lam, who told this publication that no explanation was given by GECOM as to why these ballots were unstamped.
She went on to highlight during an interview with this publication that the unstamped ballots were not the only issue encountered with ballot box #4583, since there were missing documents which are needed to authenticate the votes. “For instance, the counterfoil was missing, letters; while the votes were counted, there was no way to check back. There is no explanation and we can’t say that it’s a similar situation like what happened at Sophia Nursery School, because there is no note.”
Notably, the A New United Guyana (ANUG) intends to meet today separately with the Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield and Chairperson of GECOM, Justice (ret’d) Claudette Singh, to discuss what errors may have occurred on E-Day regarding those unstamped ballots.
Meanwhile, government- nominated Commissioner, Vincent Alexander, told the press last evening that in the case of the ballots used at the Sophia Nursery School which weren’t stamped, these are “legitimate ballot papers because on one hand, the not-stamped corresponded in number to a similar number stamped.”
He continued, “If one is to make a judgment not merely based on what the law says but what the law intended, I could hardly see us not admitting those ballots as valid ballots. The Commission itself has not yet adjudicated on the matter but this clearly falls into one of the three scenarios I had earlier articulated and I’m looking forward to a sensible, rational and just decision to have those ballots counted.”
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