I hardly comment on political matters but the ludicrous statements that keep emanating from the mouths of some politicians in the APNU/AFC party have moved from being amusing to downright frightening. These politicians have power and their words can greatly affect the future of all of us even if we label ourselves as non-partisan and apathetic about politics.
To begin with, we had the ‘Russian affair’, yet we are still to see the pictures of these criminal masterminds and it was alleged that one escaped and is roaming Guyana! How are Guyanese supposed to protect themselves when we don’t even know what this hard-core, sophisticated criminal looks like? Is there an ongoing manhunt for him?
Now we have allegations of discrepancies in the electoral process which basically translates to allegations of wrongdoings by polling day staff. In the first place, it is expected that before making allegations, the average person is armed with knowledge and evidence to fight his/her battle yet we have the crème de la crème of Guyana, the most well-educated and influential people making outrageous statements and carrying out despicable acts for over two months now without thought for the stability and unity of the country.
The allegations of fraud and discrepancies on Election Day are without merit and laughable. Where is the evidence? I worked for GECOM on E-Day and I can’t see how a dead person could have possibly voted or in other words, how a person could have taken the identity of a dead person to vote. GECOM staff and polling agents (political party agents) were outfitted with the Official List of Electors and folios which had the photographs and biographical information of electors. Also, GECOM staff had to check the ID cards and fingers of electors. In the absence of ID cards, eligible voters were questioned by Presiding Officers, and had to take oaths after the team, including the polling agents, examined the folios and agreed that the person present was indeed who he/she claimed to be. Were APNU/AFC agents double agents or in collusion with the entire supposedly pro PPP/C and/or small parties GECOM team? And don’t forget the police officer assigned to the Polling Station.
Also, a person could not have voted twice. When someone votes, there is a process that person has to go through. His/her name would have been ticked off by all on the Official List of Electors and finger stained. If this person tried to vote again he/she would have had no alternative but to return to the same Polling Station and would have been caught out. The name of an eligible elector is only found on the list and in the folio of eligible electors for one Polling Station and the vast majority of persons voted at a Polling Station in their own village/neighbourhood. Again, it is being implied by APNU/AFC that APNU/AFC agents (supporters of the party) colluded with GECOM staff to give extra votes to parties other than APNU/AFC. If I were a polling agent for this party I would feel tremendously disrespected!
So, we now move on to the claim that persons who migrated voted. A person who migrated can still be eligible to vote. Some people are very loyal to the parties they support and I can imagine a few wealthy individuals with time and money to spare who are on the Official List of Electors may return to Guyana just to vote. If something fishy was afoot then APNU/AFC needs to produce the evidence.
Unfortunately, I am apolitical and a bit too indifferent to politics so I am not familiar with all the allegations made and the other happenings with the politicians but I did read about the allegation of missing poll books. Honestly, I don’t see what the big ruckus is about this. When the entire electoral process is taken as a whole, polls book do not affect the outcome; it records information such as opening and closing of poll etc. During the packing up (to leave Polling Stations) after the count and distribution of copies of the Statement of POLL to agents, various items are placed in the ballot box, special envelopes and in a carton/bag. The poll book is supposed to be in the Returning Officer’s package which is not placed in the ballot box but handed to the Deputy Returning Officer (DRO). The information on how to pack can be found on page 35 of GECOM’s manual for polling day staff.
Cardboards, staples, twine, envelopes, candles, used ballots, tendered ballots and even unused toilet paper (everything) is returned to the DRO who checks off items. Some go into the ballot box, some in special envelopes and the rest in a carton/bag while packing at the Polling Station. We were told stories of persons just putting everything in the ballot box, not filling envelopes properly and the list goes on but it was not intentional or sinister or affected the results of the elections.
The most important tasks for polling day staff were: allowing eligible electors to vote, counting of all ballots for Regional and General Elections in the presence of all including the polling agents and writing up the Statement of Poll which had to be signed by the polling agents and an original copy placed at the station. Now if the polling agent for APNU/AFC or any other party found faults or wrongdoings during the electoral process would he/she sign the Statement of Poll for that station? Wouldn’t the agent report the matter to the party? Wouldn’t the party request an immediate recount at the Polling Station? Did this happen before the Mingo controversy?
By making outlandish allegations about the electoral process without providing evidence, the APNU/AFC party has shown gross disrespect for the thousands of persons including their own polling agents who facilitated the electoral process and ensured that Guyanese exercised their democratic right to vote for a party of their choice.