Guyana Elections Did Not Meet Standard For Free And Fair Polls — Elections Officer

(CMC) – Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield,  said in his report on the recount of the ballots in the disputed March 2 regional and general elections that the results do not meet the standard of fair and credible elections.

Lowenfield presented his report to the chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), retired justice Claudette Singh, detailing the complaints and observations made of the recount in every region and the findings.

GECOM had undertaken the recount after both the ruling coalition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the main opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) had claimed victory at the polls that had been observed by national, regional and international observers.

The recount exercise ended last Sunday and the PPP/C claimed that it showed it had won the elections by more than 15,000 votes, while the APNU claimed there were numerous instances of irregularities and anomalies. The recount was observed by a three-member team from the Caribbean Community and it is expected to submit an observatory report.

In his report, Lowenfield noted that in Region One, there are 36 instances where evidence to validate the usage of certificate of employment were missing; 16 instances where oaths of identity which are used for people without an ID card, were missing; and 12 instances where extra ballot papers were found in ballot boxes without the requisite documentation.

In respect to allegations of voter impersonation, Lowenfield summarised that responses from the chief immigration officer and the General Registrar’s Office confirmed the voter impersonation claims to be of substance.

He also highlighted similar instances in Regions, Two, three and Four, noting that in the latter a total of 466 ballot boxes were affected due to a total of 1,862 anomalies and/or alleged voter impersonation and unreconciled ballot boxes.

“In other words, approximately 55 per cent of all votes cast for the general elections stand to be impacted due to either anomalies and/or voter impersonation or unreconciled ballot boxes. Specifically, 7.2 per cent of the votes cast were impacted by anomalies, 39.2 per cent were impacted by voter impersonation, 3.4 per cent impacted by both anomalies/irregularities and voter impersonation, and 5.7 per cent impacted by unreconciled ballot boxes,” he said.

The Chief Elections Officer also said it cannot be ascertained that the results met the standard for free and fair elections, highlighting the many cases of anomalies and the impact those anomalies would have on the votes and the outcome of the elections.