– sends in falsified report
– GECOM to meet soon on a way forward
By Shikema Dey
Guyana’s Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield once again, defied a direct order by the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and presented to the Commission, yet again, a final election report with falsified figures and not those amassed from the National Recount.
After seeking clarity from the Chair, Ret’d Justice Claudette Singh on precisely what the final figures would be derived from, Lowenfield was ordered to present himself before the entire seven-member Commission yesterday, at 11am with the final report containing the accurate figures.
The CEO, however, failed to show up to the meeting along with the three government nominated Commissioners, Vincent Alexander, Charles Corbin and Desmond Trotman. As a result of their absence, no quorum could be had but nevertheless, the CEO sent his report.
That report did not reflect the results of the recount, instead showing a win for the incumbent A Partnership For National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Coalition.
On the cover letter of his report, Lowenfield told Justice Singh that she provided no “clarifications” to the queries he made in his July 10 letter to her.
He acknowledged receipt of her subsequent letter affirming her previous orders and noted his understanding “that Article 177 (2) (b) of the Constitution affords the technical officer the right to advise the Chairman of the elections results that ought to be declared.”
On that premise, he said, he prepared and submitted the report, “in accordance with my statutory and constitutional duties and all applicable laws.”
Lowenfield’s new figures
In his new report, the CEO claimed that a total of 475,118 valid votes were cast in the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections; however the recount shows that a total of 460,352 valid votes were cast.
On his newest calculation of the votes, the incumbent Coalition got 236,777 valid votes while the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) attained 229,330 valid votes with 5,090 going to the tri-party joinder: A New And United Guyana (ANUG), The Liberty and Justice Party (LJP) and The New Movement (TNM). Those figures would give the Coalition the 33 majority seating in Parliament with 31 going the PPP and the remainder to the tri-party joinder.
The accurate recount figures place the win with the Opposition with a total of 233,336 valid votes while the Coalition trailed behind with 217,920 valid votes and the remaining 5,214 went to the joiner parties. With the recount numbers, the PPP would be positioned for 33 seats in Parliament, while 31 went to the Coalition and remainder to the joined parties.
The recount figures are said to accurately represent the will of the electorate who exercised their democratic franchise on March 2, over four months ago. The recount process consisted of a total recount of the ballots cast – i.e every single ballot present in the 2,339 ballot boxes were examined, counted and the numbers tabulated at the end of it. An official certificate of tabulation was prepared and signed by GECOM officials along with the representatives of every political party which contested the elections.
Matching with Mingo
Not only did the CEO present to the Commission a report containing falsified figures, he also included the fraudulent declarations made by controversial Region Four Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo on March 13.
Those numbers are still being held in abeyance and can be viewed on GECOM’s official website under District declarations.
Mingo back on Friday March 13 issued his second declaration for District Four claiming that the Opposition PPP gained 77,231 votes and incumbent Coalition gained 136,057 votes.
Lowenfield included the exact numbers in his report despite, numerous reports showing that Clairmont Mingo fraudulently added votes to boost the Coalition win and deducted votes from the Opposition. The recount of Region Four revealed that the Coalition got a total of 116,941 valid votes while the PPP got 80,920 valid votes. What Mingo did was add a total of 19,116 to the Coalition’s number and deducted 3,689 votes from the PPP.
Where are the SOP’s?
With the surrounding controversy regarding accurate number of votes cast for each party in the March 2 Elections, questions have arisen on why the GECOM Chair has not yet demanded the official Statements Of Poll (SOP) from Lowenfield, for them to be released publicly.
The PPP had made numerous calls on the Coalition and GECOM to make the SOPs public, however, those calls were unanswered. It should be noted that back in 2011, then Opposition Leader, David Granger had requested that GECOM release copies of the SOPs in their possession.
That request was later facilitated by GECOM, under former Chair Steve Surujbally, who agreed to hand over scanned copies of the public documents for the November elections held that year.
While the recount uncovered the massive fraud carried out by Clairmont Mingo in Region Four, the Coalition continued to maintain that their SOPs were identical to the numbers declared by Mingo. The party refused to release their SOPs to the public even as the same was done by the Opposition.
Lowenfield’s varying reports
Keith Lowenfield has submitted a total of three final election reports to the Commission, all containing falsified numbers rather than the correct, certified figures from the recount. The numbers in each report differ vastly from the other, where he either deducted or inflated the numbers to provide a false win for the incumbent Coalition.
In his first preliminary report on June 13, which contained a summation of the Observation Reports (ORs) from the National Recount, Lowenfield claimed that a total number of 182,260 valid votes were cast – 125,010 went to APNU+AFC, 56,627 went to PPP and 1,010 went the tri-party joinder.
The justification he gave for that those figures stood on the claims of irregularities brought by the Coalition during the recount process, including dead and migrant voters, missing statutory documents and spoilt ballots etc.
In that first report, Lowenfield dumped a total of 275,092 valid votes from the March 2 Elections, disenfranchising a large section of the electorate. He then issued another report on June 23 where he dumped 115,844 votes. Lowenfield claimed that a total of 344,508 votes were cast in the elections with 171,825 votes going to the Coalition, 166,343 votes going to the PPP and 1,776 to the joinder parties. To account for the vast difference from his initial report, Lowenfield offered no explanation.
With his latest report, Lowenfield added 14,766 votes, claiming that a total of 475,118 votes were cast at the March 2 polls. Questions were pointed to the CEO through the GECOM WhatsApp group to account for the changes but once again, no explanation was offered.
The CEO, as statutorily ordered, has to complete a simple calculation of fixed figures at the end of every electoral process, to determine the number of votes cast in totality, the total number of valid votes for each party that contested the election and most importantly, the allocation of parliamentary seats.
Neither the Constitution nor the Election Laws make any provisions for Lowenfield to subtract and add votes at his will.
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