Kaieteur News – The Leader of the PNC/R, David Granger, in a recent interview noted that the APNU+AFC Coalition had produced a dossier of irregularities in the general and regional elections of 2020. He further said that these irregularities were uncovered during the Recount process.
The CARICOM Team, which the very PNC/R had said was the most credible interlocutor, had something to say about the PNC/R’s objections during the Recount process. It said, “The Team viewed much of the exercise as a fishing expedition designed to gather data for a possible election petition and which resulted in considerable time being wasted during the recount.”
In its report, the Team said that the [APNU+AFC’s] request for information about serial numbers on the Official List of Electors was so bizarre. An APNU+AFC official was prepared to query serial numbers at a Work Station where no one had voted.
There has never been, in any part of the world, a spotless election. In this regard, the CARICOM Team said it found the irregularities and violations “insubstantial” and did not view these as having “amounted to sufficient grounds to invalidate the tabulation of the votes at the recount and therefore these irregularities DO NOT constitute sufficient grounds to challenge the integrity of the recount process.”
The PNC/R of course had sufficient time and reason to use the evidence in its Dossier during the course of the election petition. But we know that somehow the petition was for some strange reason not served in time on the Presidential Candidate of the PNC/R.
The PNC/R and AFC shattered any chances it had of being returned to power in 2025 by its shenanigans during the period March to July 2020. And therefore, it is not likely to give a good showing in the 2025 elections as it did in 2020 when it lost office. But if the PNC/R hopes to remain a credible political force, it has to dispense with this discredited narrative that the voters’ list was bloated and that there were gross irregularities in the elections.
The voters’ list did not result in an election turnout of more than 70 percent and therefore could not have been a factor in the PNC/R’s loss. The fact of the matter, the very election laws, which David Granger claims he was abiding by require that a person is eligible to vote by reason of registration and not residency.
The PNC/R and the AFC have considerable work to do to regain the confidence of those persons who were disenchanted with its shenanigans during the elections impasse. The PNC/R is not going to be able to do so if it perpetuates this charade about dead and migrant persons voting. It would be better advised to examine its own record of governance to uncover the reasons for its loss of popular support.
During the course of his discussion, the Leader of the PNC/R raised two questions. The first was: Were the votes cast valid? And the second was: Were the elections valid?
The Leader of the PNC/R ought to know the answers to both questions. The validity of the votes cast is not determined by the Chief Elections Officer. He has no such powers. The valid votes were determined at the close of polls when the ballot boxes were opened, the votes separated and counted.
The CCJ took the position in its judgment in the Mohamed Ali case that the CEO ostensibly took it upon himself to invalidate more than 100,000 votes, which had been previously validated.
The CCJ said that valid votes could only mean those votes that ex facie are valid. It explained that, “The determination of such validity is a transparent exercise that weeds out of the process, for example, spoilt or rejected ballots. This is an exercise conducted in the presence of, inter alia, the duly appointed candidates and counting agents of contesting parties. It is after such invalid votes are weeded out that the remaining “valid votes” count towards a determination of not only the members of the National Assembly but, incidentally as well, the various listed Presidential candidates.
It said that under the legal infrastructure governing the electoral process, unless and until an election court decides otherwise, the votes already counted as valid votes are incapable of being declared invalid by any person or authority.
The CCJ in its judgement and referring to the Validity of Elections Act, said, “Among other provisions, the Validity Act provides that the method of questioning the validity of an election is by an election petition, and that this shall be presented within 28 days after the results of the election are published in the Gazette under Section 99 of the Representation Act.”
The learned judges of the CCJ pointed out that, “The Validity Act also provides that in a trial initiated by an election petition, the High Court can declare that the number of valid votes cast for a list of candidate differs from the number of votes upon which seats in the National Assembly were allocated, and also that the High Court can order a fresh election in whole or in part.”
It concluded that there therefore exists a constitutionally mandated and evidence based open justice process placed under the exclusive jurisdiction of the High Court with a right to appeal, if necessary, to the Court of Appeal and ultimately up to the CCJ.
The PNC/R, however, has not yet succeeded in invalidating the elections. And it is not likely to do so.
(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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