Since Guyanese voted in the Regional and General Elections on March 2nd, the Caribbean, the Diaspora and beyond have been bombarded with claims by Guyana’s main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) that they would have won those elections hands down but the evidence emerging from the national recount and audit of every ballot cast is pointing to a very different narrative, linked clearly to systematic and malfeasant efforts by the PPP to rig to the elections.
On February 29, three days before any vote was cast, the PPP, so confident that the decision by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to abandon the 2019 House to House voter registration Exercise would have worked in its favour because the voters list was bloated, was able to publish a chart showing how it had already won the elections.
A point to note here is that the PPP had last year vigorously campaigned against the House to House registration exercise, a move by GECOM to cleanse the list of dead or long migrated people, because it was in possession of thousands of national identification cards belonging to those who were deceased or had left the voting jurisdiction.
In the end, the Guyana voters list ended up with a total of 660,000 voters from a population estimated officially at 780,000. This means that when one added the national schools population of about 260,000 it meant that the national population would have skyrocketed to beyond one million people. Guyana has never recorded a population in excess of 800,000.
So all the contesting parties approached March 2, 2020 knowing full well that the list was extremely bloated and that at least 200,000 extra ballots that would not have been needed in any circumstances whatsoever on voting day, were in fact printed and distributed by GECOM to Presiding Officers at polling stations. This and the fact that the list was not cleansed of dead and long migrated people, meant that it was easy for colluding polling day staff to conspire, to allow for these two categories of people to vote as the current recount and audit is revealing so glaringly. Most are known to have, incidentally, voted for the PPP.
As we have seen during the recount of boxes on the East Coast, GECOM has found hundreds of ballots stuffed in these boxes for the PPP. There are no supporting documents whatsoever, no List of Electors, poll books, nothing. This is just a case of sheer, naked ballot stuffing. No wonder the PPP was so confident that it had won. These raw ballot stuffing incidents have of course been unearthed in areas along the coast which are known to vote for the PPP. This is also why the PPP had been pressing for a simple numerical recount of Region Four only, knowing what its agents would have done.
The recount and audit began under the watchful eyes of a monitoring team from the Caribbean Community on May, 6th – two months after Guyanese voted – with an initial 25-day agreed counting period that has since been extended.
Since then, some amazing incidents of fraud, illegal activities and malfeasance have been uncovered. For example, the ballot papers of thousands of votes by Guyana’s Disciplined Services have been found not to contain the official GECOM stamp that presiding officers must legally place on them to make them legal. The Disciplined Services have traditionally voted overwhelming for the Coalition or its predecessor party, the People’s National Congress (PNC). PPP agents say these were mere mistakes by polling day staff.
The Recount/Audit process has unearthed a number of cases where ballots cast with clear markings for the Coalition have mysteriously ended up in PPP folders. This is part of the main reason why the PPP had so vigorously opposed the audit process, demanding that only a simple numerical count of votes in boxes be done, no auditing. They wanted no examination of the process so that deliberate acts of fraud would have been missed, ignored by a simple count of ballots rather than an audit.
The Recount process has also viewed instances of ballots cast for the Coalition in one Electoral Region ending up in ballot boxes of another. This is designed to boost PPP numbers in the particular region so that it could win the region and control the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) and gain an additional Member of Parliament.
This is yet another indication of the various political ruses used by the PPP to rob the Coalition of votes and to boost its own numbers. The PPP is traditionally supported by Guyana’s Indo population, now down to 38.5 percent of the population from 51 percent 25 years ago, so even if every single Indian voted for the PPP it cannot win an election without support from other races and without engaging in acts of systematic cheating. This is the reason why it has gone to such lengths to steal the elections by any means necessary. The Coalition will fight to the end to ensure that the PPP does not get away with this.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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